HERE we go again as another church follows the footsteps of the Roman Catholic Church Good Shepherd Parish in Kabwata which publicly endorsed the aspiring candidate for the United Party for National Development (UPND) in the forthcoming parliamentary by-election for that constituency.
It was amusing once more to see the UPND candidate Mr Andrew Tayengwa in the company of President Hakainde Hichilema and his entourage being presented to the Liseli congregation of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) at Jack compound as candidate for the by-elections.
This to me is tantamount to officially endorsing Mr Tayengwa as the UCZ choice for Member of Parliament considering the official recognition he was given. My question to the churches is why other candidates from the contesting parties are not being invited to be presented to their congregations as well?
This is the worst discrimination ever seen from spiritual bodies that are supposed to be impartial and non-partisdan.
While there is nothing wrong for the Republican President to worship at any church where his heart takes him there is everything to be suspicious about if it is being done during the time of elections.
But it is equally unsettling for the UPND candidate to stand up and tell the church that he lived in that area and everyone knows him.
Definitely if he lived in that area and people know him as he claims, was there any need for him to be introduced? Not only that, he told the congregation that they should choose Christians because they were the rightful people to rule with righteousness as others are corrupt.
But who told him that all Christians including himself are holy and can rule well? That is cheap politicking for a man with hidden intentions and ambitions.
Mr Tayengwa must not stretch his luck too far with the Church and his claim of having lived at Jack Compound because that may trigger other people to delve more in his background, descent and other personal issues beyond what he is imagining as Member of Parliament for Kabwata.
I may be thinking ahead of time in this matter but I can see the church campaigning for the Kabwata constituency bringing in a lot of legal ramifications later should the UPND candidate win the race and the other contestants deciding to petition him in court and having undue advantage of the church electorate through a calculated move using the presence of his party leader at the same time president of the country.
Sometimes I wonder what has gone wrong with the Church in Zambia which follow every incoming party, government and leader. We saw this during the regime of the former President Edgar Lungu and we have also begun to see it with the current leadership of the UPND.
It is like the Church has become the fishing ground for politicians who have become copycats of each other.
In the case of our current president who says he is an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) where I have belonged for the past 15 years does his interest in visiting other churches tally with his fundamental beliefs?
It is amusing that he has taken such interest in making rounds of some churches he would have never stepped foot in when he was in the opposition. Why the turn of events now? Let him answer that question from the bottom of his heart.
I am not doubting him but if Mr Hichilema is indeed a devout SDA member and being an elder for that matter there is no way he can throw to the wind his church’s doctrine and fundamental beliefs to start worshiping with other churches which the fellowship and its elders do not approve of.
That he knows too well and anyone who abrogates that is immediately censured.
What I do believe in is that a true believer in whatever Faith they belong to will not compromise their stand just because of a temporary secular position they hold.
Just like a Roman Cathiolic Church priest cannot be allowed to preach in an SDA church, and vice versa so will their members find themselves worshiping in another assembly.
To me Christianity calls for principled people who will not water down their fundamental beliefs for an occasional opportunity and for this reason I don’t know how our President is devoted to the teachings of his church.
I do understand President Hichilema’s predicament now that he is a leader of the entire country hence his ecumenical approach to win over the Church to his leadership.
But then he should know that as people we cannot be in every congregation just as it is not enough to convince ourselves that since the Gospel teaches about oneness in Christ we can worship everywhere. No, that would be too simple, vague and spurious.
Oneness does not mean embracing every church and belief. Is that not the reason we have so many churches, denominations and ministries in the world today otherwise if it was not so we would even embrace Masons as our brethren in Christ which is not the case!
Division is not only for the church but everything else including humanity. For instance a Chinese person cannot be one with an African and the other way round although both races are human beings.
Please in the name of God I implore churches not to allow politicians to campaign in the church for monetary gains. It was even embarrassing at the Liseli UCZ congregation for the presiding leader to tell the congregation that now the President had visited them, their building project will come to completion!
That was a very disturbing statement and panders to something I cannot mention here. Churches must look to God rather than men.
However, I cannot wholly condemn the statement of that UCZ official, that is how some churches perceive visitations from top party and government officials. They are used to receiving brown envelopes and pledges in return for their blind allegiance. This is what was happening during the tenure of the Patriotic Front rulership.
And to my fellow politicians avoid using God’s houses and people for your cheap political campaigns. The Church has a noble mission to preach the Gospel, pray for leaders and guide the nation.
Politicians must worship at their churches rather than hopping and roaming all over like our close relatives in the jungle just to garner sympathy and support from poor, uneducated and unsuspecting congregations.
REV ALFRED SAYILA,
Political leader, former lecturer and journalist.