Monday, September 10, 2012

CHURCHES AND RELIGION ON THE DECLINE IN BELIZE

THERE ARE MORE CHURCHES IN BELIZE THAN THERE ARE LIQUOR STORES, OR BARS.

  YOU WOULD THINK THAT BELIZE WOULD BE A HIGHLY RELIGIOUS COUNTRY?  ALAS!   AS A PECENTAGE OF POPULATION, LESS THAN 1/2 OF 1 % OF THE POPULATION ACTUALLY ATTEND A CHURCH REGULARLY.

  MOST RELIGIOUS CHURCHES, OR TEMPLES, OR WHATEVER; TEND TO BE MORE LIKE SOCIAL CLUBS, AND AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, OR SOCIAL SUPPORT DURING FINANCIALLY DIFFICULT TIMES.  MEMBERS HELP EACH OTHER OVER HARD TIMES A BIT; WITH A CAR RIDE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. USUALLY SOME BRIGHT SPARK, CHARISMATIC LEADER ( HE THINKS SO ANYWAY ) STARTS A CHURCH AND GATHERS A SMALL FLOCK, USUALLY CHILDREN, OF A DOZEN OR TWO, IF HE IS LUCKY.  THESE SMALL GATHERINGS USE THE OLDEN DAY TRAPPINGS OF VARIOUS RELIGIONS AND HOLY BOOKS, TO BOLSTER THEIR VIEW OF THE WORLD.  USUALLY, WHEN THE CHARISMATIC LEADER GETS A BETTER JOB, AND THE TITHE, OR COLLECTION IS TOO LITTLE OVER TIME, THE CHURCH TENDS TO BE ABANDONED.

  IN 2012, THE ONLY STRONG SMALL ISOLATED CHURCHES, USUALLY VERY SMALL, FILL THE NEEDS OF THE MENNONITE COMMUNITIES.  YOUNG MENNONITES EITHER GO TO THE CLOSEST ONE, OR IF THERE ARE SEVERAL IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA, AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE GRAVITATE MOSTLY, TO THE MORE LIBERAL VIEWPOINT. THEY LOOK FOR THE CHARISMATIC LEADER THAT PICKS THE MOST FAVORABLE BIBLE VERSES, TO JUSTIFY THEIR ACTIVITIES.  SINCE CHRISTIANITY IS PART OF THE MANDATORY CORE PROPOGANDA AMONG THEM, THE MENNONITES ARE PROBABLY THE MOST ACTIVE PRACTICING RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN ALL OF BELIZE.

  60 YEARS AGO, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS THE BIGGEST AND MOST WIDESPREAD THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.  THE LOCAL PRIESTS WERE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE ACTUAL GOVERNMENT MINISTERS.  DURING THE 1970'S AND LATER, THE EVANGELICAL MISSIONARIES BROKE UP THE JESUIT HOLD ON THE POPULATION.  BACK THEN EVERY MAN, AND WOMAN HAD A CROSS HANGING AROUND THE NECK.  IN NEIGHBORING CENTRAL AMERICAN COUNTRIES, FAILURE TO DO SO, COULD AND DID LEAD TO VIOLENT PERSECUTION.  NOT ANYMORE THOUGH!  FIFTY YEARS AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS HAS CHANGED ALL THAT. WHEN THE GOVERNMENT DICTATORIAL PROPOGANDA HOLD WAS BROKEN BY HAVING OTHER RADIO AND TELEVISION STATIONS, IN THE 1980'S, INSIDE BELIZE; IT WAS ONLY A QUESTION OF TIME THAT PEOPLE STOPPED SWALLOWING THE MESSAGE OF FEAR AND DAMNATION, IF THEY DID NOT OBEY THEIR CHURCH LEADERS.  IT DID NOT HELP WHEN THE EVANGELICAL MISSIONARIES OF VARIOUS PERSUASIONS STARTED BUILDING THEIR OWN CHURCH IN EACH VILLAGE, UNTIL MOST VILLAGES HAD MORE CHURCHES THAN GROCERY STORES.  EVENTUALLY THESE EXTRA CHURCHES FIGHTING FOR POPULATION MARKET SHARE, LOST THEIR FOREIGN FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND THEY WERE ABANDONED.  IT WAS ALL ABOUT MONEY, AFTER ALL.  In Hillview, ( population 300 ) my own village suburb, we have one grocery store and three churches, two mechanics, two furniture making shops and one cheese making factory..  None of the churches have enough congregation to make it financially worth while.

   NOWADAYS THERE ARE FEW OF THE YOUNG MIDDLE AGE CROWD TO SUPPORT CHURCHES.  USUALLY NEW CHURCHES SPRING UP, LOOKING FOR THAT SUNDAY COLLECTION INCOME.  USUALLY SOME WOULD BE - ARTICULATE MESSIAH, SEEKING TO COLLECT A GROUP OF SIMPLE MINDED, UNEDUCATED, NEW IMMIGRANTS, TO INFLUENCE THEM AND DICTATE HOW THEY SHOULD LIVE, TO HIS OWN FINANCIAL BUSINESS ADVANTAGE.  CHURCHES IN BELIZE TODAY ARE MOSTLY RECOGNIZED FOR WHAT THEY ARE:  MONEY MAKING GROUP SOCIAL CLUBS FOR GROUP SELF HELP, AMONG THE POOR.   WHEN YOU ARE POOR AND ILLITERATE, A CHURCH SUPPORT GROUP STILL SERVES A PURPOSE IN BELIZE.

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