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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The State and Religion Argument

A recent article by Katulwende responds to the Charles Kachikoti Op'ed's defence of  Zambia's declaration as a Christian nation. Katelwende has problems with the validity of the Christian claims and "the discriminatory" nature of the declaration :

The State and Religion Argument, Malama Katulwende, UK Zambians, Commentary:

Has the Christian faith in Zambia become compulsory for every citizen to espouse, or should our country be judged in terms of her adherence to the "principles of the Bible"?

In a disturbing article titled, "Uphold Zambia's crucial covenant with God", Charles Kachikoti, Chief Policy Analyst for Press and Public Relations at State House, seems to suggest so. Daily Mail: 23-02-2010.

"The Declaration [of Zambia as a Christian nation] is a vision statement and values statement rolled into one. It espouses a national vision, a people's mission and family values...It is a statement of strategic intent. It is a rallying point giving credence to national development plans and bringing moral sensitivity into governance. It is Zambia's view of the future."

What can one make of this "exposition" ? In my humble view, this official position is very dangerous and, to say the least, irrational. When did Zambians enter into a covenant with some Jewish God? What proof is there of this? Yet granted that Zambians have indeed made this covenant with some God, then we have to face up to some serious dilemmas.

Firstly, to legalize religion means that Christianity becomes the norm and everyone opposed to it becomes a criminal. In a very short time, some citizens of this country will be arrested for practicing faiths that are contrary to the 'official' state religion, Christianity. Suppose I say to people, "I can prove that Jesus Christ is not a God, that the resurrection is a sham, that actually Mary had sex with Joseph, that the humanity of Jesus Christ permitted him to indulge in sex and marriage and, above all, that book called the Bible contains thousands of fallacies, such as no God could have created the material universe in seven earth days, or the fable of a snake asking Eve to eat of a fruit?" What would happen to me? I am convinced that Pentecostals would call for my blood, even when Zambia is a democracy. Yet this tragedy has started to happen already. Let me give two examples.

Not so long ago, some sangoma from South Africa were nearly hounded out of the country when they came to exhume the remains of their ANC compatriots. Hardcore evangelical churches called their rituals "satanic", "ungodly" and "outrageous". It has now become common to compel the citizens to behave in a certain way, simply because "Zambia is a Christian nation." In a related incident, some Pentecostals are calling for the PF leader, Michael Sata to quit politics and set aside his presidential ambitions because these fanatics claim that his 'polygamous life' is not compatible with the Bible.

Yet one might like to ask: are we not free to believe in what we choose, or should we follow the blind faith of some professed pastors such as Shikapwasha or Pule? In a country which professes to be a democracy, some citizens have become second-class citizen on account of not espousing a particular kind of religion. This is discrimination. However, every Zambian citizens is free to think, feel, associate and assemble as they choose. In point of fact, we are even free to "sin". I may decide to have a one-night-stand when I choose, or drink some wine with my friends, without reference to extrinsic motives such as threats of damnation from the bible or some weird pastor wielding Hell. I am responsible for my myself, and refuse to surrender this freedom to anyone.

Yet to make the Bible a legal document which people should follow is simply unacceptable. I believe that no one has been put in charge of deciding individual destinies of Zambians. We are free agents and should be allowed to shape our futures, that's all.

Secondly, if we suppose that the Kachikoti exposition is the official position of the country, then this brand of Christianity must translate into an economic system such as would be acceptable to Jesus Christ. Would He accept rampant capitalism, for example, in which foreigners have taken over the mines and other resources, or would He be comfortable with a form a socialism in which the state controls the means of production and distributes wealth equally to every citizen?

Would Jesus agree to some individuals such as Rupiah Banda and George Kunda controlling the social capital of this country, or NCC members earning more than others for the same amount of work or, for that matter, sleeping in parliament. If God indeed exists, He should support justice and if a political economy tolerates inequality, then it must be overthrown so that it is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet are our politicians ready to give up their wealth and lead by the example of the poverty of Christ? I do not think so. Corruption, greed and arrogance is so embedded in them that they are almost morally incorrigible.

Thirdly, from the point of view of epistemology, there's a serious danger that the evangelical brand of Christianity and theology - which does not invent new truths the way science does - would even be more discredited in the light of new forms of knowledge. To be sure, the Bible on which such an questionable faith is based is a closed system and has a lot of inconsistencies which defies logic and rational thought. On the other hand, what would we do if the major premises of Christianity crumbled? Would we remove the Christian declaration clause from the Constitution?

Lastly, the Pentecostals have no right to decide the sort of future my country should have without my consent, as a citizen. When the former president of Zambia, Dr. Chiluba declared the country a Christian nation, he did so without consulting the Catholic Church, or any other major churches.

Pentecostals and Evangelicals gathered and inserted the clause in the Constitution. Now given this lack of consultation, why should some citizens obey a clause to which they did not consent? Besides, there is no agreed catalog amongst Christian Churches in Zambia of what constitutes their commonly held "formulas of faith". So why should a Pentecostal push for a religious agenda and expect an atheist, gay, thinker, traditionalist, Moslem, Hindu and Jehovah's Witness to obey?

1 comment:

  1. Well said Malama

    The Chiluba gang who declared Zambia a christain nation are the ones who told the biggest lies, stole the most and entrenched a culture of plunder Zambians have never dreamt of.
    Surely nobody really believes they are sincere Christians - if thats the concensus back home then I assume hell's the place to aspire to!

    I am ashamed to have had anything to do with them and even more ashamed of my european heritage- the donors continue to reward the rape and pillage through-out the "3rd world".
    Keep it up

    Rolf Shenton
    PS Loved and related to Bitterness- what next?


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