When religion enters politics

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As I write this, many Zambians have just ended their mandatory, christian related twelve hours of fasting.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ll put my hands p straight away and say I cannot write about this without despair and rolling my eyes at the gullibility of those who have accepted this without question, which I feel no, I know is the hallmark of organised religion. That one should believe without questioning, and how in some ways this ties in beautifully with the cultural requirements f most of out tribes: do not question your elders, do not question those in authority.

It took me a long time to fully open my eyes and pull away, so when I see what is happening now, I want to rage on the people of Zambia’s behalf because this is wrong on so many levels.

The Kwacha is at one of its highest points against the dollar, people are enduring power outages of over twelve hours a day in some places and the reason given is low water levels in the dam, while Zambia exports electricity.

A former president declared Zambia to be a christian nation years ago. There was no justification, no examination of what this meant, and no referendum to make any changes to the constitution. The draft constitution, which, granted, may not have been passed, but is still an indicator of those crazy times, is inconsistent on that matter. In the preamble on page 32, which was an amendment in 1996 after said declaration it states:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy and significance of God Almighty;
UPHOLDING the right of every person to freedom of conscience and religion;
DETERMINED to uphold and exercise our inherent and inviolable right as a people to decide, appoint and proclaim the means and method to govern ourselves;

Hmm. So a religious state, of a one god state. meaning all other citizens that may believe in more than one god, or none at all, are not covered by the constitution.

But then, page 36, which is the section clearly marked State and religion, we find the following:

8.     (1) Zambia is a secular State without a state  religion.
         (2) State and religion are separate.
WTF? So is it a secular state or not?
And how did we get to where we’re being laughed and compared to ISIS for wanting a country ruled by a religious majority? It seems to me we’re going backwards instead of forward. Where instead of looking at tangible and viable ways to get this resource rich country out of this (and I’m convinced it is a) temporary slump, people are going without food and water for twelve hours, businesses are told they have to close during that time, and people are cheerfully believing  this will somehow fix the exchange rate and get the copper prices up.
And when this, of course, doesn’t work, it’ll be “you obviously didn’t pray hard enough or fast enough, or the opposition party prayed and we all know they are satanists so it didn’t work type excuses will be in full swing. I know how this works, I was one of those for a long time.
But let me put aside my rant and try and describe what this does to people.
You don’t have to come up with solutions, just pray. I see it in forums and groups all the time. “Just pray for your partner to stop cheating on you”, “Just pray and you’ll pass the exams”, “just pray and that baby you long for will be conceived”, Just pray, just pray, just pray. Leave it in god’s hands, his time is the right one, You’re not reading the bible properly, your faith is not strong enough and on and on and rarely any practical solutions, advice or empathy shown to the person suffering.
 It creates a tier of religious class. All those who are not subscribed to Christianity, which is 20% of Zambians, are lesser and goes against what the constitution’s separation of religion and state, was meant to remove. Pitting politics under a religious banner is dangerous and thoughtless as evidenced by the targeting of the opposition party in this completely unrelated article to the Bloomberg news here by the ruling party here. When did it become okay to do that?
It makes a mockery of good governance, accountability and commitment. What are the government portraying to the next generation and to the uneducated in the country? That education, that bettering yourself, that demanding more from your government, is not really in your hands. It’s not in theirs either. They ultimately, are not to blame. Don’t look to them for solutions.
It also absolves the president of any wrongdoing. After all, he’s called on the most supreme authority to change the country. what more do you want him or expect him, to do.
I’m just gobsmacked. I had hoped, in some small part of me, that someone would stand up and cal this for what it is, opium of the masses.
I can see what religion does to people on a personal level. It gives them hope, it gives them strength, and in some cases, it gives them a meaning with which to go through life, and a set of guidelines that align them with a sense of hope for the future.
But when religion is used as a tool to keep people down, when it is forced down a nation’s throat and used to justify the action or in this case, inaction, of a government, then it’s being abused.  When a government ignores the existence of a minority group to justify its own goals, when they use religion to cover up a host of corruption, theft and mismanagement of resources, then it is being abused. And when people fear speaking out, or worse, buy into teh reason beacuse they really subscribe, unquestioningly to this, then we have a really big problem.
As George Carlin said, “Religion is like a pair of shoes…Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes”

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5 Responses

  1. sappi says:

    This post though… Yes. I agree with you 100%. Using religion has a political tool is just wrong and mockery. Great post.

  2. Peter says:

    The fact that people are poor and desperate for anything to make their lives better is being exploited. That is why we have prophets pretending to be floating on air and church members are applauding and calling it a miracle. There is also a tendency as you have alluded that we are not to question the elders. Often abusing the bible verse, “Touch not my annointed”. It is sad to see that religion which does have its place in society is being abused.

    • Muuka says:

      The thing that saddens me most is this parallel between the traditions and abusing them now for political positioning. It’s so ingrained that many people will not question it, especially as many people aren’t leaned enough, again through the government’s failing, to question this.

  1. October 18, 2015

    […] Muuka As I write this, many Zambians have just ended their mandatory, christian related twelve hours of […]

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