By Kyeyune Ssenyonjo
Uganda is not a theocracy where a state is governed by divine guidance as is the case with Vatican City which is a Christian theocracy and such Islamic theocracies as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and Malaysia.
It is only under such theocratic political systems that religious leaders instruct citizens on political matters.
Fortunately, Uganda is a secular state. I am proud of this declaration and assurance in our Constitution.
Since Easter when religious figures, including Archibishop Jonah Lwanga, (Lubaga); Bishop J.B Kaggwa (Masaka); Bishop Kityo Luwalira (Namirembe); Bishop Zac Niringiye (Kampala) and Presiding Apostle Dr. Joseph Sserwadda (Ndeeba-Kampala) preached politics (followers call it preaching the gospel), some Ugandans think that President Museveni should comply with what the priests have said!
I overheard one person remark thus: “Museveni banadiini bamwatulidde nti agende era katusubire nti anakola nga bwebagambye anti abo bantu bakatonda…” (the religious leaders have openly advised Museveni to leave. Hopefully he will oblige because they are God’s people…)
Other commentators have hailed the leaders and dressed them in overcoats describing them as “leaders who command significant constituencies…” as if such constituencies are politically homogeneous, whose members swallow words of the prelates without reason, or, to borrow Okot p’Bitek’s words “swallow everything like a grave which does not reject even a leper…”
Were this to happen, Ugandans would be the most unfortunate lot. Unfortunate because, these leaders are as human as all of us, save for the robes and claims of divine encounters with God, foreign God, to be particular.
As human beings, therefore, what they utter are ordinary ideas which members of the general population are not obliged to follow to the letter. Where they are lucky, some people may take such advice, while others might choose to merely note it or rubbish it.
This is the danger that these clerics, who claim to be a uniting factor, run into when they get excited and meddle into such polarising subjects as politics and politicking.
While pronouncements on such matters as corruption, injustice, and lies may be within the realm of the religion, it is incomprehensible that a man in the robes should instruct a seating president when he must vacate.
It is worse that clerics can order a leader to groom a successor. When did Uganda degenerate into an anachronistic monarchy? Why did Lwanga talk about the issue of impeachment? Was he a draftsman of Lukyamuzi’s impeachment motion?
Apparently, the sermons beg many questions. Have the churches replaced the Ebimeeza? Was it by design or coincidence that most of the quoted leaders are in Buganda? Whose spokesmen were they? How were their statements that President Museveni must quit in 2016 different from those made by the opposition?
For instance, the Catholic church usually speak through the Episcopal conference as in the case of 1986 when they issued a document “With a New Heart and a New Spirit” where inter alia they called for party politics.
In the recent case, Kampala Archdiocese only talked. In the case of Church of Uganda, did Niringiye and Kityo Luwarila speak for the Synod? Which book, chapter and verse(s) of the Bible served as basis of their utterances?
To many people, part of the record of the Church is too dirty to win its leaders blind respect. Yet it is held that good leadership must not only be but be seen to be exemplary. Has the Church been exemplary? Not wholly.
During the reformation, Pope Gregory XIII rejoiced in the wanton massacre of 30,000 French protestants on the St. Bartholomew’s Day so much that he sent a golden rose to the leader of the killings. Bishop Ncube of Bulawayo Catholic Church was caught in sex and he resigned. Namirembe Christians chased Archibishop Eric Sabiiti from Namirembe ‘of Baganda’ because he was a mukiga!
We have heard or seen church leaders bless people on starting second marriages or congratulate others upon getting new babies out of wedlock even though the Church condemns such acts! Inspired by God, indeed!
The writer is an academician, politician and media commentator
Churches are not ''ebimeeza''