AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology


Summary This thesis focuses on a Caribbean white middle class use of religion to uphold existing power structures on a small island facing change due to immigration. The small island, named the Cays , is part of the Bay Islands and situated in the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Bay islanders form an anomaly of being English speaking and Protestant in a country where the official language is Spanish and the vast majority of the population Catholics, still the Bay Islanders have managed to isolate themselves from Honduran influence until recently. The Bay Islands, with its Cays, are now wealthier than mainland Honduras, and the past two decades all islands in the Bay Islands have received numerous amounts of mainland immigrants in search for a better economical situation. The Cays now house three ethnic groups and five churches, and fit the Caribbean regions description as heterogeneous and diverse. But the Cays have not always been heterogeneous; due to their somewhat unique settlement history they stayed segregated white until the 1990 s. The Cayons, the white population now residing the Cays, are facing immigration that they feel is threatening to the already limited natural resources. As a response to this threat most immigrants are not assimilated into the Cayon community and this thesis aims at exploring the important role Protestantism has in the social organization on the Cays. As an organizing frame I have employed one of the Caribbean regions most powerful analytical models; Peter Wilson s paradigm of reputation and respectability (1969, 1973), where I argue that the model of respectability has grown to be the main organizing frame on the Cays. Church is the mere rationale for respectability, and throughout the thesis I argue that it is crucial for Cayons, and immigrants who want to assimilate the Cayon community, to engage in respectable activities. There are now five Protestant churches on the Cays, four that serve the Cayon population. Protestantism has become an important factor in Cayon identity formation, group formation and morality, and Cayons use their religious faith actively to create an identity opposed to the Spanish Catholic immigrants from the mainland. This way religion is used as a mechanism to include and exclude immigrants on the Cays.