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PART 2: CHRISTIANITY - Time for a wake-up call
Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2001

( Jamaica Gleaner ) By Norman Francis, Contributor

THAT RELIGION is regarded by some as another opium of the mind is no doubt reminiscent of Karl Marxis's famous pronouncement that religion "is the opium of the people".

Thus, Otto Maduro, himself a Marxist, correctly admits that religion has served as "one of the main (and sometimes the only) available channels to bring about a social revolution." But just how does religion function as an instrument of social change?

It does so by evoking a new awareness among the people, thereby providing them with an alternative consciousness to that of the dominant culture. This counter-consciousness is rooted in an understanding of God as the supreme Ruler, who, contrary to the god of the dominant culture, is not a mere instrument in the hands of the 'haves', but is free to act according to his own purposes of righteousness and justice.

The process of dismantling the oppressive structures in any society must necessarily begin by bringing to public expression, the pain of the suffering masses. In so doing, religion is able to lead persons to an understanding of why things are the way they are, to empower them to take responsibility for their own lives and to initiate the process of change. This is the most fundamental level of change the liberation of the mind!

It is precisely at this point that those who are exploited, marginalised and without hope are energised by a new spirituality that leads to the discovery of new possibilities and of hope, based on God's freedom to act with justice. Again, it is religion that brings to public expression these new possibilities, and contrasts them with the existing powerlessness of the present order to deliver the quality of life expected of it. And, as the process expands, similar changes will inevitably engulf communities, institutions, and ultimately entire nations.

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