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Friday, November 5, 2021

A Reflection on Church Services at State House

Columns A Reflection on Church Services at State House

By Dominic Liche

Over the weekend, we have witnessed two church services taking place on the grounds of State House, hosted by new President, Hakainde Hichilema. Yesterday, the church service was led by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Today’s was led by the Catholics. Whilst hosting the services may in themselves be problematic to the naked eye, a bit more reflection may uncover some salient problems with such a practice, in its justification and probable sustenance in the coming weeks and even years.

It seems to be a very bad start for President Hakainde Hichilema in hosting these church services at State House because the many questions that the practice evokes could uncover deep seated problems in the Zambian governance system. These questions include, but not limited to the following: Is this the best use of our resources and his presidential time on Saturdays and Sundays to bring different churches to State House to pray? Will he next bring UCZ, Bread of Life Church International, Northmead Assembly of God, different Pentecostal churches, New Apostolic Church, Zion churches, Jehovah’s Witnesses (if at all they can accept such!), Moslems (oh, I forgot this seems only directed at Christians), Hindus, and other religious churches to State House for church services? Just what is the motives behind these church services at State House? What is expected to be achieved by these State House prayers? Are they some form of cleansing of State House grounds? Are they some form of anointing of the leader? Are they some form of appeasing religious leaders and their followers for some role they could have played in the election victory? Are they some form of seeking acceptance of and from Christians especially for a person who was unfairly painted unchristian, Satanist, free mansion, and other names by his political rivals, mainly the Patriotic Front? Are blessings being sought as he is undertaking a five-year mandate as the president of the country?

President HH has apparently opened the doors of State House to these pastors, elders and priests, and religious fundamentalists (as can be seen already by comments on the President’s page around these two events) who have different expectations and agendas of their role in the new government. Some want to be close so that they can siphon off and benefit from the new government. Some want to show they have power and are close to the powers that be and can easily call on the President for favours. Others want to make sure that things like the Christian nation declaration remain in the Constitution, that the so-called National Day of Prayer, Fasting, Repentance and Reconciliation remains on the calendar and a holiday, that the inter-denominational House of Prayer is completed, that the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs remain unscathed, etc. For yet others being invited to State House is nothing but for pomp and pride for selves and their peers.

Very soon we may hear that a church is being built in State House or a permanent tent has been erected for this weekly church services. Or at the very least, some religious charlatans calling for such.

This kind of approach, if not guarded or reflected upon, is one that made former President Lungu very arrogant and even believe that God had anointed him and chosen him to lead this country away from the role that citizens played in electing him into office. He stopped listening to the very people who was elected to lead. He stopped seeing the economic malaise, corruption, maladministration, because the so called Christians and maybe even pastors for Lungu told him otherwise. He stopped seeing the suffering of the people. Yet he faithfully shared Bible verses every day with pictures of himself with hands clasped looking holy and humble on his social media platforms. He laughed when people were complaining that life was hard. Youths wanting to voice out their concerns were called names. He thought ‘God’ was enough without Christian acts for the people he was supposed to serve. Songs were even composed to the tune that God had already chosen and elected him as President in this election even if people were not to want him. He was misled by religious leaders who did not prioritise good governance, democratic tenets, respect for rights, freedoms and liberties of all in society, and doing unto others as they would want done unto them. The religious leaders prioritised holding national prayers to pray for kwacha stability, improved economy, and other things that needed practical hard work of governance systems. They prioritised painting any person with a divergent view as anti-Christ, painting the opposition as Satanists, unchristian, free masons, and other bad names. They prioritised building a national temple as though churches have no church buildings to pray from and as if the Cathedral of the Holy Cross that has thus far served as an interdenominational prayer centre was inadequate.

If President HH is not careful, he will fall in the same trap as his predecessor.

I ‘pray’ for a day and generation when our politics and governance system will be divorced from cheap religiosity and unquestioning religious fundamentalism. When religion will not be used to win elections or advantage one qualifying candidate over another. When religion will take its proper place in servicing the spiritual and social needs in an unbiased manner. With these church services and maybe a few more to come, President HH might be seeing himself as being anointed or consecrated by God right now by religious leaders of different churches and denominations to legitimately, in a religious sense, take his place as the national leader of this country. He may be begin seeing himself as God’s representative in this nation as some our past leaders have. He may stop seeing himself as master and not as our servant. Something he has correctly, helpfully and repeatedly asserted about his servant leadership style of governance. Some religious leaders may begin pumping into him the view that as the anointed one, citizens cannot and should not question his decisions and authority. As they say, touch not the anointed!

But after this, how is President HH to do away with the so-called Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs which is a total waste of taxpayers money? How is he to annul or reverse the building of the interdenominational temple in the recently degazetted forestry, that I think should be turned into a government complex (offices and business) or a scientific or special skills college? How is he to say no to some gullible religious leaders when they want special favours from him?

Yes, coming from a place where he has been called so many unchristian names and accused of many unchristian acts, he may want to prove himself to be none of those things. But in doing so, he should be wary of religious selfish opportunists and vultures who have nothing to do with real faith but want to gather for the niceties that come with being close to the ruling elites. Those that may poison his honest good intentions for this country, the intentions that led to a massive voter turnout with a majority of citizens voting for him.

The President may slowly be entangling himself in a vicious web of religion that will be very difficult for him to disentangle himself from. this entanglement can be seen in an increase in daily bible verses on his social media platforms. Between former President Lungu’s social media page and that of President HH, not much difference can be seen in terms of these Bible verses. Beyond these bible verses if they are seen as key, more should be done to share bytes from his governance plans, priorities, and immediate areas of focus, and daily reflections on key issues affecting us citizens. Bible verses could very easily dwarf us into not calling our leaders into account for many will easily say, Amen!, and not ask critical questions on what the President has done or is doing.

Yes, it is good to have a prayerful President, a President who is Christian. One who wants to pray alone and with others. One who wants to inculcate some useful Christian values and principles in his leadership style. But, the most he could have done or should do going forward is to go to different churches each Saturday or/and Sunday to pray like any other Christian, if indeed he considers Christians to be fellows.

For what would be his excuse for refusing another Church that requests to hold a service at State House after this?

The Author is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at the University of Zambia.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I fully agree with the content of this piece. It’s well-thought-out. But will HH listen? I hope so. What if he doesn’t? Nothing can be done because the author has only reason to offer. But slowly the seeds of religious discrimination are being planted and the possibility of future conflict that normally follows it.

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  2. Good article. The next thing we will hear is some greedy fake pastor being appointed as minister. That would circumvent the official voting system. It also reeks of the hypocritical praying of Edgar China Lungu: quoting from the scripture while stealing the country blind. Not a good development.

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  3. The United States of America is comprised of 50 states, each with its own state capital, traditions and history.

    Must visit for all leaders.

  4. Some useful points BUT the main problem I saw with Lungu was unwillingness to litsen.
    It’s not fair to allege all religious leaders fell into his grip.The Catholics did not,they have learnt from the past not to be partisan.There are many religious leaders from other denominations including Pentecostal who spoke out.
    Lungu had a baggage from his background and was not suitable to hold public office.We all ignored his problems especially the appointing authority.He was given an opportunity to ammend he failed.

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  5. The author is on point. America the most Christian nation in this world, her presidents attend church quietly on Sundays without social media optics. HH should stop diluting his authority by kneeling in public like that. We want a tough president with a firm back bone. You can do your religion in your closet your excellency. You can even practice a cult for all we care. We want continuity of our great republic chapwa. Stop this nonsense HH.

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  6. When someone starts mentioning God just know they’re trying to cover up something.
    HH suddenly has become a church boy…danger…HH is fake and playing on people’s minds…..he is busy auctioning Zambia to the IMF

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  7. I agree with the author’s suggestion that “the most HH could have done or should do going forward is to go to different churches each Saturday or/and Sunday to pray like any other Christian, if indeed he considers Christians to be fellows. For what would be his excuse for refusing another Church that requests to hold a service at State House after this?” The approach HH could use in refusing to use state resources for building or funding churches is to acknowledge that we already have different existing churches or houses of prayers by going to different churches and houses of prayer.

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  8. When the foundation is wrong, everything built on it will be wrong. Chiluba declared Zambia a Christian nation out of a fevered emotional frenzy brought on by the Gabon disaster. What is little know is that Kenneth Kaunda also declared Zambia a Christian nation in the 1960s. All Cabinet meetings from independence have been preceded by prayer to the Christian God. Towards the end of his tenure, KK became a syncretist (fusing all religions) and was in the process of building a temple (more like a shrine) at State House. This freaked out Chiluba when he moved in. His Theology made him see demons in State House. This is where we are. Plot One tenants are haunted.

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  9. The problem are SOFAS and over dressing by Mutinta.
    Tone down with love.
    No couches anymore. That culture should go with PF. Dress simple, don’t be a queen. Stay at New Kasama house.
    xoxoxoxo
    Nostra.

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  10. Dominic Liche writes ” This kind of approach, if not guarded or reflected upon, is one that made former President Lungu very arrogant and even believe that God had anointed him and chosen him to lead this country away from the role that citizens played in electing him into office.” The topic for his article is “a reflection on Church Services at state house”. The author gets carried away and forgets that, unlike HH, ECL was not hosting church services at state house from the time he assumed the Presidency. He was going out more to Churches to meet people and pray with them. In contrast, HH wants to make churches feel they are at his mercy by inviting them to state house and hosting them there. If HH fails to invite non-Christians to state house and host them for services there, they…

  11. … will begin to feel they are being treated more like second-class citizens and discriminated against. Despite the preambular Christian Nation declaration, the Zambia constitution still recognizes other religions and HH has to take this into account in the manner he relates with the Churches by also inviting and hosting non-Christians like Muslims to state house. But should he do this, HH can expect a backlash from fundamentalist Christians. The more reason he needs to go out there, mix and pray with Zambians in different Churches belonging to different religions than host them at state house.

  12. Totally agree with the writer of this article. How is he going to accommodate all other churches? It would have been appropriate too humble oneself by going to a house of God. It would have been nice to join the congregation. Who are the prayers in state house for? The president and family? Why not follow God to his house and praise him for this beautiful gift?

  13. “In truth there is nothing wrong with reinventing the wheel, if you think you can make it better, stronger, faster, or different. But if you are building a cart you do not need to invent it from the wheels up, you build on the ideas that exist.”

  14. It just feels great to wake up in a cleansed environment knowing that nightmare PF criminal and Satanic organization is gone and buried. I think the govt should distance itself from these churches, They do not mean well for the country. They are leeches that are after only one thing: to siphon off money from the state. These Satanic churchmen saw lungu plundering state coffers, gassing, murdering, imprisoning opponents. Yet they said he was a humble Christian. How can one be humble, a thief, corrupt and violent at the same time?

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  15. This Christian nation matter will cause a lot of problems in the future. Yes, those saying America is the most Christian country may be right BUT there is NO declaration in the American Constitution of the USA being a Christian nation. Matter of fact, there is a clear exhortation for the separateness of religion and state in that country. Progress is by individual enterprise and not state sanctioned cajoling.

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  16. I agree with all sentiments. Religion is a private issue that shouldn’t be muddled up with our politic. Time to remove and replace our Constitution which doesn’t seem to have any guardrails.

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  17. @ Nostradamus
    so you’ve also noticed how Mutinta is over dressing…tasteless outfits just plentiful of materials used….kikikikikiki….yaba….power is sweet….so she’s also a show off like her husband

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  18. Anyone and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Nonetheless, in a case like this one, What if H.E used the two days to unify religious belief, what if he wanted to ‘Cleanse’ State House? Which anyone sober must do every time they shift to a new place. Sanctify and dedicate the grounds and the surroundings to the Almighty.

    So the more reason to find out from the Head of State why he did that instead of wide speculation….otherwise, it would pay to remain mute about the issue……

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  19. But when someone held drinking parties there with different people of different religions,character etc no one complained

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  20. It is only man who changed this whole set up. Way back, in a palace there was a temple, a leader would go in and seek the Lord. if anything, we need to have a temple closer to the head of state in order that they don’t derail from the ways of God Almighty. This explains the failures by most leaders as we have seen with most leaders.

    Saul lost it because he refused to listen to the word of God. You ask me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Head of State holding Church services at state house, if it were up to me, let him do it every week….More grace, more blessings, more wisdom…..
    Joshua 1:8 says:
    This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:…

  21. Zambia will remember these days when things get tough. The ministry of national guidance and religious affairs is very relevant in our dispensation. Otherwise we end up with a lost population of ignorant uncultured youths. Be warned!

  22. Separate church from state, the president is here to govern and church people have their houses of worship. The 2 don’t mix, that’s why we have many different religious orders because everyone has different ideas. We vote for a govt to run Zambia not read a bible.

  23. It is very clear that the writer of this long article is not a Christian, anti-Christian and has no understanding of Christianity. I pray that he should stop mocking God. It is very unfortunate that a lecturer at the highest institution of learning can write without understanding and exhibit his ignorance.

    Read Psalm 33:8-22. Verse 12 says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” There is s blessing upon a nation that submits to God. Even the writer of this demeaning article is also blessed although he does not realise it because his mind is blinded. Proverbs 2:6 talks about God giving wisdom and understanding. A leader who prays and submits to God receives wisdom on how to govern the nation. It is therefore much better for our…

  24. The SDA are proud to have ushered in a president who’s their own child. Mazoka emigrated to Catholicism because the Vatican children are most crowd pullers.
    That is why these two religions outshined all others.
    The churches’ assignment was to exorcise vile spirits and pacify State House.
    The president is very spiritistic, so Fathers and Deacons could take turns to cast out past presidents’ unquiet souls. Even Religious Affairs Minister will come from one of these two churches.

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