Editor's Comment

Church, politics need right mix

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu shakes hands with United Church of Zambia members after they made a contribution during the presidential fundraising walk in Lusaka on Saturday. PICTURE: ROYD SIBAJENE/ZANIS

THE Church and Government share the same interest of uplifting people’s standards of living. The Church is concerned more with the spiritual well-being of people while Government caters for citizens’ physical needs. In many instances, the Church also complements Government’s responsibility to fulfil socio-economic needs of the citizens.
The two institutions play these complementary roles because they serve the same constituency of people that are in need of spiritual and physical well-being.
Governments world over are headed by politicians who provide the policies required to run countries effectively.
In developed countries, these two institutions have co-existed peacefully. In developing countries, most of which are in Africa, the two have worked together, although sometimes with varying opinions on how best to meet the expectations of the people.
In Zambia’s 50-plus years of independence, the Church has been instrumental in building schools and hospitals because this is with the realisation that spiritual emancipation is not enough.
Beyond praying, church members need education and good health for them to effectively improve their standards of living and to also contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.
Of late, some churches in Zambia have been going beyond the construction of primary and secondary schools by building institutions of higher learning to meet the ever-growing demand for tertiary education.
This gesture complements Government’s efforts in providing education for all.
It is therefore of utmost importance for the State to have a good working relationship with various non-state actors, including the Church. They are stakeholders in the governance process.
The State, as a corporate body, is a secular entity in most parts of the world, but public service workers and other functionaries are human beings who need salvation.
At the same time, the country should at all costs avoid mixing religion and partisan politics, although there is a blurred line between the two.
Where politicians have expressed desire to worship or work with the church, they should be welcomed with both hands.
That is why President Edgar Lungu has said Zambians who question the presence of politicians in churches are insincere and non-Christians.
President Lungu rightly observed that the Church, which draws members from across the political sphere, should strive to accept and embrace political players.
He emphasised that politicians and church members are one and the same people who need each other’s support.
During a fundraising walk for Reformed Church in Zambia, Kamwala congregation, Mr Lungu reaffirmed Government’s commitment to engaging the Church on governance matters.
In a multi-democracy such as Zambia’s, the Church has an even a bigger role to play.
Instead of taking sides, the Church, widely accepted as the light of the world, should shine beyond partisan politics.
As the country prepares for the 2021 elections, the Church should play its role of being custodian of the peace this country has cherished for decades.
Instead of taking sides, it should play a conciliatory role by ensuring that politicians are civil in their respective quests to win support and to also be tolerant of each other.
Of course, some churches do not see anything wrong with taking sides because their leaders are positioning themselves for appointments and gifts in return for their actions.
But others are not serious churches. It’s understandable.
Let the Church remain the salt of the country.

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