In defence of religious leaders commenting on politics

Sunday March 4 2018

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Prof George W. Kanyeihamba 

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

Last week, the media reported that the Seventh Day Adventist Church world leader, Pr Dr Ted Wilson, discouraged the faithful from using churches to make political statements.

I respectfully disagree with him in so far as politics affect the peace and welfare of God’s people, including their spiritual wellbeing. It is erroneous for anyone to prohibit religious leaders from denouncing politics when they impinge on God’s people’s wellbeing and welfare.

I thought that the followers of the Seventh Day Adventist Church derived their faith from God and Jesus Christ and believe in the Holy Trinity. But even if they were not but still follow God, Dr Wilson is very much mistaken. The whole thrust of religion is the goodness of human beings perceived as a whole. Taken scientifically, that is bodily, mentally and spiritually.

Politics affect these human components in one way or other. Religious leaders in the words of their respective founders are shepherds, guides and counsellors of the people entrusted to those leaders. They would, therefore, be failing in their bounden duty if they did not criticise and attack from the pulpit bad politics that affect or are likely to cause harm to God’s people.

Christians will remember that our Lord and founder, Jesus Christ was a very emotional effective politician and became arguably the greatest religious leader of all time for His politics. He was criticised by the Jews both religious and political for that same reason. Those of us who believe in Him know that He died to save us from sins which are highly the consequences of politics. The Jewish political leaders betrayed Him, condemned Him and hanged Him for His outspokenness on religion and politics. Politicians find His summons highly offensive to their way of life.

Founders of other religions and their followers have equally been criticised, arrested, detained, tortured and murdered for what they said from the pulpit. Our own martyrs, including Archbishop Janani Luwum, had their fate sealed by preaching goodness against evil of bad politics. We remember and revere them because they publically and from high holy places cursed and shouted loudly against the evil men and women do in the name of politics.

It is, therefore, very strange that the leader of the Seventh Day Adventist Church should have rushed where angles feared to trade during the time and activities as well as speeches of great religious leaders always mixing religion with politics. Religious strife and untold human misery have always been met by brave words from religious leaders castigating bad politics.

It is strange also that our distinguished Pastor having had the privilege of meeting our President, Lord Temporal, did not use the opportunity as Lord Spiritual to warn President Museveni and other political leaders to refrain from using political platforms to criticise religion and spiritualism.

Sometimes, it is worse when politicians interfere with the free will of God’s people and persuade or bribe them to vote against their own beliefs or conscience. On numerous occasions, we have witnessed politicians, including nonbelievers, rush to religious festivals, funerals or shower donations for religious development and give gifts of expensive vehicles, showing clearly that they use political platforms to interfere in religious affairs. Dr Wilson missed an opportunity to do God’s work.

Finally, before rushing to judgment let those who desire to interfere with God’s work learn more about interrelationships between religion and politics. The two are so intertwined that one is a genius of the other.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.
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