Jamaica and Rwanda: Churches and the culture of being untouchable

Local government authorities suspended activities for a total of 714 churches in different parts of Kigali for failure to meet minimum standards.

According tothe Guinness Book of World Records, Jamaica has the most churches per square mile. It is no wonder I grew up hearing the sounds of the church almost all day on a Sunday and at least three nights during the week.

In addition to the sounds from the church, my ears know well the loud sounds of dancehall and reggae which permeate through speakers across many streets in my island home. On and off there have been attempts at curbing the noise from music across Jamaican towns and cities where party schedule begins on a Wednesday and keep active until Sunday.

None of the attempts to curb the loud noise has really taken hold as the idea of a quiet Jamaica is almost an oxymoron.

In Jamaica, we fool ourselves into believing we are holy and self-righteous because the typical Jamaican fears God. As such, we see any effort to interfere with the church as being unGodly and an attempt to curb the spread of the power, might and magnificence of the Lord God.

With this mentality, churches have grown bigger and have often gone unchecked. While the loudness from the dancehalls constantly cause debate and contention, the noise from the church is only whispered about and rarely ever brought to the forefront for a real discussion.

My even writing about this is, I am sure, “an abomination unto the Lord”. How can one even suggest that the word of the Lord should not be screamed through speakers and disrupt neighbourhoods? Only a heathen would complain about such a thing. Growing up in my island home, this was the mentality and today it remains in large part the same.

Imagine the shock when a few weeks ago I read that some churches in Kigali were closed. My mind was blown. For a split second I feared for the souls of all who would do such a thing, but then I quickly overcame my obvious cultural indoctrination.

An article on the matter from this publication was shared with friends in Jamaica who could not believe that churches could be closed. It took them a bit of time to even think about the reasons for closures as they were stuck at just the idea that the doors of the Lord’s houses were shut by authorities.

Of course, analysis began as to why churches in Rwanda could be closed and mosques could be asked to turn down the volume on speakers for prayer call.

In my circle, this was unheard of. In Jamaica, any politician who supports the call for regulation of the church and its behaviour, in any way, is assured of a loss at the next election.

In the midst of wrapping my head around the closure of churches a few things came to mind:

How have some countries developed a culture of applying rules across the board and not fear the untouchables such as the church and the unions?

Does not having a dramatic opposition give a developing country a better chance of successfully implementing tough policies?

Why have some of us allowed ourselves to buy into an idea that anything which questions the church equates to fire and brimstone being part of our future?

The idea that a church or any place of worship should be beyond the laws and rules of a country is absurd and feeds into a narrative of fear and control of a people. Religion and spirituality are important to the lives of human beings.

Religious practices and spiritual beliefs help to feed the mind and the soul but should never be a controlling factor.

It is refreshing to see the church, like any other organisation being forced to obey the same rules as everyone else. We should all rejoice at this as being considered an untouchable is never good in any society.


Let the rules apply to everyone.


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