RICHWELL Siamunene says Zambians can’t be more Christian by having a religious ministry.
He says the scrapping of the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs is in good faith because it did not serve any purpose apart from creating more classes among citizens.
“We must not put laws to force people to turn to God. Instead He [God] must be in our hearts. We can’t be more Christians by having a religious ministry and actually despite having it, we experienced a lot of atrocities in the country such as gassing, violence and many other injustices,” notes Richwell.
Indeed, salvation is personal. You cannot start legislating or enforcing religion on citizens. Only Talibans do that! It is argued that, “It will be very harmful if a political party favours one religion and uses it to get more votes. It may lead to conflict between different groups of people based on religious ideology. Politics and religion do not and should not go hand in hand in a secular democratic state. A secular government refrains from associating itself with or serving the interests of any one religious community. It has to work for the welfare and betterment of the constituency, regardless of their religious inclinations.”
And Richwell is right when he says Zambia experienced a lot of atrocities after Edgar Lungu’s administration introduced that ministry of religious affairs. Here is a ministry that rendered the much touted national values and principles a mockery. The religious ministry is ‘famously’ remembered for blocking Zodwa from entering Zambia under the mistaken belief that they were promoting some values while under their very noses abominable things were being conducted, schemed, hatched! It never saw relevance in condemning the Patriotic Front’s evil deeds. If anything the minister, Reverend Godfridah Sumaili, went into hibernation, she coiled, whenever the PF was misconducting itself. She never condemned PF violence, hate speech and tribalism. Even when PF cadres were showing off monies, her ministry was mute as if gagged.
It is as though the ministry was justifying David Schuller’s observation that, “There is no difference between religion and politics. Both involve lies and fanatical beliefs that generally defy logic…Just like rock climbing.”
Edgar seems to have created that ministry for political expediency just as he justified his project of constructing of the national house of prayer. No plausible explanation can be given to the creation of that ministry other than to hoodwink some gullible believers, to empower Christians for Edgar Lungu. Not only was it a drain on the limited public resources it was a worthless structure that was conceived to emit a mirage, an illusion that the creators were religious people who must be supported. As Richwell says, one cannot be more Christian by having a structure called religious affairs ministry. Were people less religious before creation of that ministry? The answer is a categorical no. Did the people become more religious, Christian following the creation of that ministry? No. Did those who created that ministry become more religious? No. Instead they postured more than being genuinely religious. They drunk more, womanized more, and involved themselves in degrading acts that corrupt morals like pornography. Talk about corruption, one becomes ‘mau-less’ – shell shocked; it was the air they breathed. But they were cheered more by those who benefited financially from that structure who held them as humble saints.
We feel its scrapping is okay. People should not lose sleep over that ministry. It has gone with its creator. Let that ministry rest in eternal peace.
As Friedrich Durrenmatt noted, “Religion and political expediency go beautifully hand in hand.”
The very existence of the ministry divided the nation. It actually brought more division among the clergy. It brought more odium in the nation. It was a grave mistake that must never be repeated in our republic.