Defending the rights of those who are often ostracised by society will be the focus of an upcoming public lecture being facilitated by the US Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Dubbed the “Theology of Social Inclusion,” the free June 19 lecture will be held at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre at 7 pm.
It will be jointly hosted by Antiguan-born Professor of Theology at Howard University’s School of Divinity and Rector Emeritus at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington DC, Dr Kortright Davis and Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and editor of the Journal of Religious Thought at Howard University’s School of Divinity in Washington DC, Dr Cain Hope Felder.
“It really is an answer to the challenges that society face in making the distinction between those who matter and those who do not, and as Christians and certainly as Christian thinkers and leaders, we wish to reinforce not only the notion but the faith that to affirm any belief in God is also to affirm your belief in a God who is unconditionally on the side of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized and the disinherited,” Dr Davis explained.
He continued, “We are prepared and anxious to enjoin a conversation with the general public in ways in which we can identify how we have gone astray and not taken seriously the mandates of our faith to look after those who cannot look after themselves.”
Specific attention will be paid to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community and children and spouses who have been abused, Dr Felder noted.
Commenting on the necessity of having such a lecture in Antigua & Barbuda, he said it is important to acknowledge diversity because, for too long, individuals have been judged superficially.
“Too long we have exploited and emphasized the politics of difference, and what we are trying to do is to turn that on its head and say that we are trying to bring people together in a reconciling manner that emphasizes the ways in which we focus attention on people who have been marginalised and oppressed and scandalised by various persons who are in vulnerable social positions,” Dr Felder said.
Human nature dictates that individuals will always be marginalised, Dr Davis noted. However, the topic must still be addressed because of the democratic form of government existing here.
“We don’t bring any solutions,” he said. “We just come to raise the questions: who are the people who matter and why do they matter?”
“On the other hand, who are the people who are marginalised and disinherited and put to the side and why is it that we can promote a notion of democracy but yet put limits on the sense of democracy that we wish to espouse?” the professor further questioned.
Given what some persons consider to be a gay agenda being pushed by the US, the two speakers were asked whether an agenda is being advanced at this lecture.
Dr Felder admitted that there is an agenda, but said: “It’s an agenda of inclusion, of multiculturalism, of affirming people who have been put down and marginalised too much.”