Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Missionary Imposition

I've been watching, with some interest, the increasing placement of 'news' about local Catholic 'community work', especially amongst the Manx Filipino community.
Not a lot of people know this, but last year this island was sent the first Catholic missionary since the time of the Celtic saints. It isn't that the Vatican is concerned for the state of our souls, more that it is worried about missing a gravy train on which other churches were early passengers.
For over a century the island has been adequately served by Anglo-Irish priests, who established churches for a growing Irish community in the late 19th century. It is only fair to note that in doing so they also met head on the racist prejudices of that time against both the Irish and Jewish community, which manifested themselves in everything from petty objections over planning permission through to denial of schooling, housing and social services. From the 1930's until the mid 1980's (when we started to see the arrival of evangelical bigots who couldn't cope with a newly equal Northern Ireland) it seemed that anti-Catholicism was a dead duck.
Since then, apart from the Paisleyites, everyone else got on fine until a newer wave of 'guest workers' from strongly Catholic Eastern European countries, particularly Poland. But while the church made a show of caring about the welfare of Polish workers, the blunt truth was that many were educated young professionals here to escape not just Polish unemployment but the rebirth of the Catholic extreme right, so the last thing they wanted was more interfering priests.
Which made the arrival of Filipino guest workers a relief to such clerics. Here seemed to be more fervent religionists, except that in rejecting the Marcos regime Filipinos also started to take an interest in other brands of Christianity, particularly US televangelism, which meant that while here they were ripe for turning by (ironically enough) Paisley's sectarian chums.
So a battle for souls commenced. Except that, of course, none of these churches is quite as concerned as they say about the minds and bodies of exploited workers and their families.
The real interest is that people who work here to support families 'back home' send back a large percentage of their hard-earned income. Money meant to feed, clothe, educate and provide the medical needs of less fortunate relatives, but which might, with a little misinformation, also be directed toward religious 'charities' which claim to do the same thing, while actually keeping the poor under the thumb of anti-democratic chancers who, from way before the time of theo-fascists like Mother Teresa, always prop up the likes of Marcos.
If you want to get an idea of the problem, try Googling 'Filipino Freethinkers' and seeing their lively and humorous take on such matters. I guarantee you will laugh, but also never again consider the antics of 'religious charities' in the Philippines and their Manx allies quite so innocent or well meaning.

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