Using the church to gain votes

It cannot be denied that some politicians use religion to gain power.

Chipata Diocese pastoral coordinator Fr Gabriel Nyoni says politicians will start seeking advice from the Church in the run up to 2021 elections but will turn against the institution after getting into power.

In his sermon during mass at St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday, Fr Nyoni wondered why politicians change after getting into power.

“You know it’s very interesting nowadays. 2021 we will have elections and we will be receiving politicians coming to seek advice from the church, coming to pray in the church, coming to show oneness between them and the church. Now we are friends, very good friends and they will make any effort to pray even if they are not Catholics, even if they are not Christians, even if they don’t belong to whatever Church, they will pray. Let them get into political power ‘no imwe your place is the pulpit stay there, leave politics to us’. Ah tapatukana bwanji lero. Worse still if the statement is issued against a political ill, an economic ill and a social ill, they will tell you that ‘you don’t understand these things – yours is a bible, leave these things to us, we are the experts not you’,” says Fr Nyoni.

Politicians know that there are some people who will cast their votes based not so much on the economy or any of the other issues that have been getting a lot of attention, but will instead, base their decisions primarily on the candidates’ faith. They do so in the hope that the person leading their country would have the same religious guidance, the same belief system.

They think it is important that the president has strong religious beliefs.

So, with religious people making up a greater part of our population, it’s no wonder that churches have become important election campaign grounds.

With so many people in the political electorate wanting some assurance that the candidate is a religious person which candidate would exclude himself or herself?

So even if a candidate knows that what they’re going to be dealing with most are not religious issues, you want to be sure to reassure people that you have values that are similar to theirs.

This makes politicians to seek and their political parties to seek religious constituencies.

But there’s a danger in this. If a group of religious people can tell politicians what they can and cannot do in church based on what they do outside of church, then it is not a big stretch that the politicians when in power will turn around and tell the church what to do.

We agree that religious leaders have a right and a responsibility to preach on moral issues, which often means they preach on subjects that have political associations.

But we think it is imperative to keep the line between church and politics carefully maintained. When the church starts trying to get officials elected in hopes of telling them what to do, then again, it’s not a big stretch for the politicians will turn around and tell the church what to do. They shouldn’t throw stones over that wall unless they want them to thrown back.

For these reasons candidates use the church to get elected. But when a politician uses God’s name to win votes, he or she is using a holy and sacred thing for a profane purpose – taking the Lord’s name in vain, which breaks one of the Ten Commandments.

That’s such a horrid sin to us.

We think it’s a good thing if some real religious issues are discussed and everybody speaks their true hearts. But God rest their souls if they are speaking in such a way to gain political power. We can think of no evil more evil than using God’s name in such a way as to gain secular political power.

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