Church have spoken out against the growth of “gang culture” in the West Indies, urging Anglicans to take the lead in combatting the moral causes of the region’s crime wave.
Church have spoken out against the growth of “gang culture” in the West Indies, urging Anglicans to take the lead in combatting the moral causes of the region’s crime wave. In an interview published on 27 Feb 2016, the new dean of Barbados, Dr. Jeffrey Gibson told Barbados Today the church was “not only concerned about the level of violence” but was “prepared to do something to change people’s outlook, to provide care for people who have been affected by violence and to serve in some position where we can rehabilitate those who might have been affected by violence.” He argued the church should seek to address the moral and social causes of crime. ”We denounce all forms of violent behaviour but we should also seek to uncover what might be the underlying causes of the violence and to see how one can move persons from that sort of spiral of violence, where they perpetuate violence and experience violence to adopting a new form of harmonious living.” ,” the senior cleric said. Last week Canon Valentine Hodges of St Kitts released a statement prepared with the country’s Council of Churches and Evangelical Alliance calling for the moral regeneration of society. “Our families, our communities are torn by crime and violence, and as the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to respond. Violence in our homes, our schools and streets, and our nation is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of our people. Fear of violence is paralyzing our communities. Hostility, hatred, despair and indifference at the heart of a growing culture of violence,” the statement said. The response to violence was prayer and social action. “As a Church, we are praying for ‘a country where peace abounds’ where all of God’s children thrive and live abundant lives, free from violence and hatred. We are therefore calling on all citizens to work together to remove this evil from among us. We believe that it is time for a new national dialogue on crime and violence.” However “restoring peace in our nation must move beyond the slogans of the moment , the rhetoric, the divisiveness and the excuses of the past. We join our voices in pledging to work for healing and reconciliation,” the statement said. The Caribbean has witnessed a spike in gang related crime over the past decade with Honduras and Jamaica topping the list of most crime plagued nations. However, 30 murders were reported in Barbados last year, and in November the US State Department issued a travel advisory warning against an increase in gun crime in Bridgetown, the island’s capital.