Lots of people pray, lots of people worship. These lots of people pray for the same things, health, happiness, direction for their children, answers to problems, peace, love in the world......you get the idea.
However, there is a growing mind set on our island that unless you pray to the same god that I do, your prayer/worship is evil, and can cause me harm.
There is the growing mind set, especially among those of the Christian based faiths that anyone who gives God, or gods a different name, can somehow cause harm to them, or harm to the country as a whole. That somehow the "spirits" that they pray to will deliberately seek out the Christians and "spirit lash" them.
It is my belief that perpetuating this sort of thinking, and encouraging this sort of thought among our population is a serious discriminatory tool which only serves to divide a people who all essentially want the same things.
The situation in Moruga, is a perfect example of what happens when a community perpetuates the sort of thinking that people who worship in a different way can cause harm to others. The programming that goes into the mind of the young, especially girls attempting to follow in the footsteps of the older female population, only shows one of the dangers of such thinking.
Our education system needs to address Religion, in a comparative sense, so that people understand and no longer fear worship which does not conform to their faith.
Christian based groups in rural communities seem bent on attacking African based faiths in the same communities. This type of attitude shows a non rational mind, which has never explored the idea that religious freedom is a RIGHT in a democratic society. Because of the plurality of our island, you would think that these are issues we have dealt with, and have grown up about it.....but it is not so.
For some people, any faith that ritualized worship is labelled "obeah" and is evil.
No one actually sits back and tries to deduce where this idea came from and why. No one ever keeps in mind that conquering countries demand that the conquered practice their faith and learn their beliefs. If we were conquered by Africans, then the Christian faith would be the "obeah."
Lets put things into perspective.
In a mythical world, there is a little island off the coast of W where a tribe of people live. They hunt , they fish, they have family, customs, worship of their own. One day a new tribe, with bigger boats and faster weapons conquer their island and attempt to colonise it, to own the land for their purposes. They completely take over, and in order to keep peace insist that the indigenous people follow their faith, their customs etc. Whatever gods were worshipped before became enemies of the new god. What ever customs the gods demanded became "unlawful" in the eyes of the new owners.
We continue that "rape of mind and culture." We continue to be ignorant, and discriminatory everytime we adopt the mindset that another person's method of worship is less valid than the Christian based faith.
We as a country, in this day and age, with all our supposed advancement, still cannot see that when a leader, be it priest or pastor or minister, makes such a comment that people are practising "obeah", that the leader himself is discriminating against people in the community.
People who wish to practice a faith that speaks to them, should be free to do so. The only time we should be concerned is if the faith, and its leaders force their will on the people, creates divisiveness in the people, or in practice promotes illegal activity. If the faith does not allow freedom of expression, freedom to disagree with the leaders, and freedom of choice and movement away from the religion, then there is cause for concern.
We need to stop the discrimination. Labelling non-christian based faiths as "obeah" is discrimination, simply because the meaning of the word in this country is synonymous with evil. We need to look deeper into the real evil that is causing these girls to act out in this way. The only evil I see here, is that someone is trying to cause fear, and divide a community whose members may be attempting to find a faith closer to their ancestral heritage.