Christianity and conservatism are diametrically opposed to each other. Yet, by asserting the word “God”, conservatives and their ilk twist the language of the Bible to suit their need to brainwash the population into supporting their definitively un-Christian agenda of discrimination, domination over people and natural resources and large-scale abuse of human rights. Fundamentalism has become acceptable; with the acceptance of fundamentalism comes a normalized absence of empathy and ethics in favor of dogma. The goals of the American right have infiltrated the minds of people throughout the Caribbean. This threatens our way of life as well as our proclaimed values of integrity, compassion and love.
This trend towards fundamentalist Christian beliefs partners nicely with the rise of global fascism that we can see in the UK, U.S. and the rest of Europe. Fascism is defined as: “A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.” If it helps you conceptualize this, fascism is the system of government that existed under Mussolini in Italy and under Hitler during Nazi Germany. In a region where the majority of the population are people of color, specifically of African descent, it may seem surprising to find fascist sympathizers. But when you look at the history of Christianity in the region, as well as the proliferation of pro-fascist propaganda, it’s not too difficult to decipher why you might find this.
The question Christians must ask themselves is this: Can Jesus’ message coexist with pro-fascist beliefs? If not, what should all Christians be doing to prevent the rise of fascism in the region?
Catholicism and Protestantism were both brought to the Caribbean for the sole intent of destroying African spirituality as well as ameliorating the enslaved peoples to subjugation. There was NO other reason for Christianity in the Caribbean. Stripping African peoples of their culture and spirituality served to keep them under European control. Catholics believe that slavery was divinely sanctioned; they twisted the words from I Peter and ignored every single other passage in the Bible calling for compassion to justify this Crime Against Humanity.
(Side note: While the origins of Christianity are indisputable, I am not against West Indians practicing the Christian faith. However, ALL beliefs that you hold MUST be able to stand up to scrutiny. If you don’t know your history/theology, how can you KNOW what you believe? Not even Jesus calls for blind faith.)
Religious fundamentalism in the Caribbean descends from the European tradition of using the literal words of the Bible to fit an agenda of maintaining the racial and socioeconomic status quo in existence. Meaning, the words of the Bible are interpreted literally not because they are meant to be, but because doing so best serves the need of the ruling class — be it the wealthy or the white, or both. This ties to fascism because the roots of this religious conservatism and fascism are the same. They both can be used in tandem (and were used in tandem historically) to achieve the same goal of keeping the underclasses subservient and unquestioning of authority.
So when you find religious fundamentalism, you will find fascism. Religious fundamentalism is fascist in that it calls for unquestioning subservience to authority as well as suppression of all opposing beliefs. Our local population imbibes propaganda from religious fundamentalist/fascist sources abroad like Evangelical TV channels that preach hate, FOX News — a channel that regularly preaches blatant lies in tandem with violent racism — or other international racist news sources like the Daily Mail or The Sun.
The ironic thing about fascism in the Caribbean is that it is divested from the usual argument that blames the underclasses. The “uneducated” are not always the ones with fascist leanings. In fact, the ruling classes in the Caribbean tend to be the most invested in the status quo. Anything that threatens their status in society generates paranoia. In a sense, their realization that they have no real power compared to the people creates the context for them promoting fascist agendas in the Caribbean or religious fundamentalist arguments. These are not always uneducated people and as West Indians, we should spend greater time thinking of who is most likely to benefit from certain beliefs and who is likely to suffer.
Finally, I’ll pose the question that I asked earlier. Is fascism REALLY compatible with Christianity? Do messages of discrimination and authoritarianism really match up with Jesus’ messages in the Bible? There are very good arguments, relying on Biblical evidence, that suggest Jesus’ teachings most closely line up with socialism. He believed in redistributing wealth to the masses, he spent time with the degenerates of society (thieves and prostitutes) and believed in caring for the welfare of your fellow man. Jesus was inherently anti-Authoritarian which is the exact reason why he was crucified in the first place. He threatened the status quo. Jesus believed that all people were created equal in practice, not just in theory. Any branch of Christianity that preaches otherwise is not well acquainted with the true meaning of Scripture.
The sub-question I asked, I’ll leave up to you. Fascism is a global issue that now poses a threat to ALL black people globally. DT’s win in the US and “Brexit” are not issues we can really remain divested from. The Eastern Caribbean dollar is directly linked to the U.S. dollar. Our economy relies on the US/UK because of its heavy reliance on tourism. Additionally, I would hope that all my readers are empathetic human beings who can relate to and feel the struggle for liberation that black people face globally. When white nationalists (the nice word for neo-Nazis) get their wish, it’s foolish to think there will be NO global impact on countries where the majority of the population is of African descent.
Many people I know who are invested in human rights as well as global liberation for black people, LGBTQ+ folks, and women, seek answers in social programs. Many of these social programs match up directly with Jesus’ suggestions for building a stronger society: showing compassion to your neighbor, feeding the impoverished, siding with the “degenerates” of our society, and taking on self-defense against the larger forces that threaten to take away our humanity. How can we bring these Christian values into our country? And I mean REAL Christian values, not the fundamentalist values based on oppression, discrimination and judgment. I’ll leave that up to you.