THE concerns raised by Infrastructure and Development Minister Ronald Chitotela in Kitwe at the weekend about the emergence of political groupings in the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) should be taken with the seriousness it deserves by the SDA leadership across the country.
Mr Chitotela is an elder in the SDA and took a brave step of publicly denouncing the political groupings emerging in the church as it has potential to not only divide the membership, but dent the good name of the church which has contributed massively to improving the lives of Zambians.
We stand with the minister and the SDA Copperbelt Conference Executive Secretary in calling on the church to nip this divisive trend in the bud as the principles of the church dictates.
Mr Chitotela said it was clear that the groupings were allied either to the Patriotic Front (PF) or the United Party for National Development (UPND) but the SDA has a political stance.
This position is based on the principle held by the church which separates the State from religious affairs.
However, members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as individuals have held political positions within the various political structures while they maintained their membership within the church.
We understand that given the nature of society itself,especially in a democracy like ours, an ‘absolute wall’ of separation between church and state is not possible.
It may not be easy to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points.
That remains the primary reason we echo the ministers’ call to the SDA leadership in the country to denounce the leaders and members who are bringing politics into the church as it is a sure formula for discrimination and intolerance.
That scenario is a fertile ground for the spread of hate and persecution among our people as this can spread to other groupings as well because these members do not operate in isolation.
They are members of our society and neighborhood.
Even the SDA in their GC Working Policy state that separation of church and state offers the best safeguard of religious liberty and
“In Christ, we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us.”
This advice does not only go the SDA but to the Church in general in Zambia. Politicising church activities is a recipe for anarchy because of the diversity of the political affiliation of the Church membership and the danger or results of driving political agendas using the vehicle of religion has been well documented world over.
The Church enjoys a privileged position as the counselor to the Government in many matters relating to the governance of the Zambia which is a Christian nation. Churches should not be seen as pushing a political agenda for a particular party because then they are interfering in the civil rule which belongs to the State.
Again, we appeal to politicians not to use church gatherings and traditional ceremonies to gain political mileage.
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