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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Separation of Church and State (Guest Blog)

There is a need for the Zambian government to genuinely recognize and safeguard each and every societal member’s freedom of worship and the freedom to choose one’s religion. At the same time, there is a need to discourage, even to enact legislation against, the following in a deliberate attempt to forestall the potential disruption of public order and socio-economic activities by cliques of fanatics from any of our country’s religious denominations:

(a) The use of public funds by a local or national govern ment to set up a church or mosque, and/or to provide any form of support to any given religious group, institution or activity;

(b) Official participation by government leaders in the affairs of any given religious group or institution, or official participation by any given religious leader or group in political or governmental affairs;

(c) The use of a religious platform by any individual or group of individuals to form a political party;

(d) The use of a religious platform by any individual to seek a leadership position in any of the three branches of government – that is, the legislature, the judiciary and the executive;

(e) Inclusion of denominational religious subjects – Buddhist, Bahaist, Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise – in the curricula of public-funded schools; and

(f) Religious sermons which are contemptuous to, or are designed to slight, other religious groupings or denominations.

In countries where government leaders have not provided for these kinds of safeguards mainly due to lack of foresight violent clashes among religious groups in their quest to dominate the political sphere, and to impose their religious laws on the citizenry, have become exceedingly difficult to contain.

The precarious problem currently facing Algeria, Nigeria, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and a host of other countries worldwide which are beleaguered by religious conflicts should serve as a clear warning to each and every peace-loving Zambian to refrain from creating a similar situation that will dog our beloved country in perpetuity.

We should not be blinded by our having had no serious religious conflicts so far. But as our country’s population and the membership of each religious denomination swells, we would be short sighted not to anticipate and make an effort to forestall the occurrence of such conflicts.

As it is often said, prevention is better than cure! Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad summed up the perilous nature of religious conflicts in his address to the World Evangelical Fellowship in May 2001 thus: “Once started, reli gious ... [conflicts have] a tendency to go on and on, [and] to become permanent feuds.”

Henry Kyambalesa
(Guest Blogger)

3 comments:

  1. Zambia is a Christian nation and it is important we continue building the country on this Christian foundation. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Zambians appreciate and love God who created our peaceful nation. Let our God Jehovah be a symbol in our country. We love our majestic father in heaven. He sustains the Zambian people and blesses us with a peace beyong human understanding.

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  2. I agree with the above measures wholeheartedly. We must indeed plan ahead to avoid conflict and thus the greatest measure is the seperation of church and state in every sphere because politics and religion are a potent and deadly brew, just look at the crusades and the partition of India.
    To counter my fellow Zambian's claim (in the comments section) that God created our nation I would like to point to Kaunda, Kapwepwe (and many others) and free will. Our borders were also decided on in Berlin by European powers. There is no way God created our nation or watched over its decline from being one of the wealthiest to being one of the poorest nations of Africa. I will defend any person's right to worhsip as they please but I reject the current tendency in our motherland to say that God granted everything to Zambians, that the president is annointed-all of that makes a mokery of laws and elections. We may as well have the Bible as our lawbook, just like Saudi has the Quran.

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  3. “Zambia is a Christian nation” is true to the extent that Zambia is a MOSTLY Christian nation. It is also mostly black, but I hope the majority would agree that a declaration in the constitution to that effect would be inappropriate and needlessly risk marginalising non-black Zambians. I always failed to see why the situation is any different when religion replaces race; how can the very questionable benefits of a such a declaration out-way the increased risks of religious prejudice and conflict? (And yet, of course, it will stay, because reason and Church-bashing are easily confused, and no-one at the NCC wants to be perceived as the latter if they want to remain popular in a mostly Christian nation.)

    I am broadly supportive of HK's proposals, but a consequence of the high level of Christianity is that Churches are very active in a variety of spheres. There are church sponsored schools and clinics throughout the country. These do benefit from Government support in terms of teachers and nurses. Presumably HK does not wish such support to be prohibited under proposal (a).

    Also, I dislike restrictions on the electorate's choices, such as (c) and (d), which would also be unenforceable.

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