Father Ho Lung & the Case of Jamaica’s Selective Morality

Father Ho Lung seems to have a weird obsession with the Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna. He named her the biggest disappointment of 2014 for wearing a bikini on the beach, describing her as an attention-seeking egotist and intimating that her behaviour (said bikini-wearing) reminds him of Lucifer’s fall from heaven. Powerful imagery there, Father. I wonder if the behaviour of many of your compatriots in the Catholic Church who have been found wanting in the area of gross molestation misconduct where sexual impropriety is concerned, evokes this sort of imagery for you. I highly doubt it.

He has once again challenged Hanna, this time in a public letter, arguing that “I do not believe we can go the way of Bacchanal, carnival, and hedonism”. He went on further to say that he is “deeply encouraged that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has never given in to abortion lobbyists and to homosexuality as a way of life.” I have dealt with the abortion issue in part elsewhere so I won’t go into it here, except to say women’s sexual and reproductive health rights simply cannot be held hostage by a largely male political directorate and a well-resourced conservative religious sect, who believe everyone should live by their convictions.

Selective Morality

Jamaica is said to be one of the most murderous religious places on earth. Proof? We have the most churches per square mile; churches filled with pious and God-fearing people whose morality can be made examples of, allegedly. Beyond the church-going though, I struggle to find other ways in which we prove this religiosity that we love to use as a crutch when we are tasked to treat minority groups with respect.

I, for one, would understand why the PM would so boldly proclaim that she does not watch the news if it was on the basis that her poor heart simply cannot cope. Afterall, the Jamaican news cycle is a constant stream of gory incident after gory incident — children being murdered, women and children being raped, homicide after homicide! Our murder rate averages around 1,500 persons annually and rapes are recorded at similar rates of countries at war (rape is often a weapon of war). When we consider that rapes are especially known to be grossly underreported, we can no longer pretend that we are not in crisis.

Father Ho Lung comes from a long-standing tradition of selective morality in this country, characterised by the blowing up of sins that we are most abhorred by while barely noticing and not being proportionately outraged by others. Homosexuality, for instance, is presented as the single most reason for Jamaica’s ‘moral decay’. So much time is dedicated to denouncing, often violently, this one presumably immoral ‘lifestyle’ that I would be surprised if all Jamaica’s problems don’t simply fall away if there was some way to quarantine every gay Jamaican and ship them to another planet. Hell, I would be disappointed!

The truth is, gay people are not going anywhere and the sooner we (re)focus our energies on working together to fix our social, economic and political problems, the sooner we will reach the lofty goals we’ve set for ourselves in Vision 2030.

Despite our murder rates, most Jamaicans are upstanding citizens – that includes gay Jamaicans – and it will take all of us to get Jamaica from the tragic position it is in now to becoming the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

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