Friday, September 23, 2016

Catholics and Protestant Churches in Zambia against new Ministry of Religion

Image result for Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Zambia
The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) together with leaders of the umbrella body of Protestant Churches, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) have vehemently opposed the establishment of a new government ministry to be known as the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs.

Opposing the government's move, the two Church bodies said they found the creation of a new ministry of religious affairs unnecessary and imprudent.

“In view of the various financial and economic challenges our country is currently facing, we neither see the creation of the said ministry as a top priority nor a prudent decision. After all, we believe that Zambians want their country to be a democracy rather than a theocracy,” the statement reads in part. On these grounds, CCZ and ZCCB stand opposed to the creation of the new ministry

Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, last week appointed Reverand Godfridah Sumaili, a Pentecostal pastor of Lusaka’s Bread of Life Church as the new head of the ministry of religious affairs. Sumaili was subsequently nominated Member of Parliament, by Lungu.

The Zambian parliament still has to ratify the appointment and the creation of the new ministry. Observers in Lusaka seemed to regard the ratification as a formality.

Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Executive Director, Reverend Pukuta Mwanza, on behalf of Pentecostal Churches, last month, praised President Lungu’s initiative saying it would “promote Christian values and give more meaning to the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.”

On 4 September, while visiting State Lodge’s Divine Mercy Catholic Parish, in Lusaka, President Lungu told parishioners that the Church in Zambia should not be threatened by the creation of the ministry of religious affairs. He said the ministry would harmonise State-Church Relations.

Former President Frederick Chiluba in 1997 established the Religious Affairs desk with Rev. Peter Chintala as Deputy Minister at Statehouse.

The religious desk suffered because of unclear terms of reference and its inability to garner support and consensus from Churches.

Eventually, it was quietly phased out.

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