Editor's Comment

The Church is key

The church has a two-prong mission, according to the Bible: to evangelise and to attend to the material needs of people.
Different churches use different methods in applying this two-prong commission. For instance, in attending to the material needs of people, some churches comment on governance issues in the context of what is otherwise known as the social gospel.
The church also plays a critical role when it comes to governance, human rights and accountability.
However, some of the comments made by these churches cannot be differentiated from those made by traditional political players.
For instance, the issue of Bill 10, how does the church justify its position on this matter when in effect it is only a matter of choice which aspects are adopted?
If the church made a position on this matter, it would risk dividing its flock because the matter has no theological value.
Given the role it plays as the moral campus of the country, churches should desist from taking political sides, by design or coincidentally.
The church should not play partisan politics because it has members with diverse political affiliation.
Therefore, regardless of the circumstances, the church should ensure that it does not become active in the political process.
This means that it should never show support for candidates or political parties but rather play the role of reconciling political players who may take an aggressive stance against each other over differences in opinion.
During elections such as Thursday’s Lukashya and Mwansabombwe parliamentary by-elections, as well as the 2021 tripartite elections, the church should be encouraging its members to vote.
Encouraging members to vote for candidates of their choice is not activism but a civic duty. Next year’s general elections are 11 months away and the political temperature is rising.
This is evidenced from the videos being posted on several political platforms.  What is worrying though is the friction between the two main rival parties, the ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition United Party for National Development.
If allowed to persist, this could ignite violence.
This is why President Edgar Lungu has at every opportunity urged the Church to keep playing its role of helping keep Zambia peaceful.
The President reiterated this yesterday when he urged the United Church of Zambia to use its wide influence to “Please, please, please….pray for the nation without ceasing as the 2021 general elections approach”.
This goes for all churches.  The church should, therefore, provide a place for dialogue between rival political parties.
The church, as a corporate body, should be a positive influence in determining the national discourse on various national issues, including politics, but in an impartial manner.
Churches should, without being partial, preach on moral issues as integrity and not to abuse the pulpit by urging their members to vote for named candidates or parties.
The church should also continue to express concern over matters which threaten the security and peace of its members.
It matters how such information is relayed because it could either be interpreted as wise counsel or rebuke and condemnation.
Some churches have taken a position which causes discomfort not only for some of its own members, but also for political players who might feel that they are unfairly being targeted.
It must always be remembered that the Church and the political players have the same constituency but how they relate with these constituents is different because they have different mandates.

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