Commentary

Church leaders should speak up for people they are called to serve!

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By Amanda Onapito

Posted  Friday, February 26   2016 at  02:00

All of the things I feared about this election have happened.

We have seen a continued display of gross incompetence by the Electoral Commission under Badru Kiggundu, whom I have known and admired in other settings to be a man of great discipline; a diligent worker and solid leader. We could not get the ballot papers right. And even when we did, we could not get them there on time.

And even when we did, we could not safeguard their integrity. And even when we did, we could not guarantee that what was in the box reflected the people’s will. We saw teargas and chaos, we saw blatant abuse of human rights by State agents and frustrated youth.

The chaos and terror that filled this election extended its far-reaching hand to those in the Diaspora and to well-wishers when the social media ban was executed.
My angst remains by far with the people who call themselves believers. The Christians.

The Church. Now, I must say at this juncture that what Justice James Ogoola and my good friend Joshua Kitakule of the Interreligious Council of Uganda were able to pull off with the presidential debate deserves the highest commendation.

I was also pleased to see Uganda Joint Christian Council deploy the likes of Bishop Luwalira Kityo as observers.

It’s a great thing when the Church and other religious institutions have the freedom to engage in civic duty. It is a great thing when we are able to contribute to public discourse and provide some guidance to the public.

But when we limit this participation to neatly prepared press statements prior to the elections and spend time calling for prayer, we do so at the risk of playing the safe card.

The silence of the leadership of the Church during the election exercise and tallying process has been deafening. We have not heard any public comment on the excessive use of force by State agencies, the shutdown of social media, and the chaos we have seen all over our media.

For the Church in Uganda to have been this silent was to abscond from duty and from their calling. For to love God is to love Him with our souls, our hearts, our will but also with our minds.

It seems to me that overall, the Church in Uganda is suffering from an inferiority complex and yet there exists a rich history of effective Church leadership world over and in this nation that demonstrates otherwise.

Where is today’s Archbishop Janani Luwum? Where is today’s Bishop Misaeri Kauma? Where is the confidence in the power of the Gospel against all odds?

For a nation with relatively generous freedom of religious expression, the Church in Uganda - Roman Catholic and Protestant- should be operating in bigger strides with proclamation of the Gospel as redemption for humankind.
For the Church to remain relevant to any community, it must embrace its full responsibility as shepherd, prophet and priest.

Following the model of Jesus Christ, the Church is given the mandate to comfort and heal people, but also to show them the way they should go and to speak up for the oppressed.

For the Church to be silent when Ugandans are experiencing gross injustices is turn a deaf ear to the bleating of the sheep.

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