Is there any better definition of idleness than telling someone how to spend his money when you had no input in how he earned it?
By Joseph Kabuleta
The Government has resurrected its misguided scheme that seeks to make it the official custodian of what is proper or improper doctrine. What folly!
To say it is the Government behind this plot would be casting my net too wide. It is just a few agitators at the Ministry (and department) of Ethics and Integrity.
So what really is the minister of ethics supposed to do? I do not think even Fr Simon Lokodo, the current holder of that office, could answer that question with any form of certainty. He has previously tried to push a mini-skirt law and later sought to purchase a pornography-detecting machine and both projects were (predictably) drowned in ridicule.
In his quest for relevance, Fr Lokodo and his co-conspirator Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye, whose title is such a mouthful, it would impinge on my word-count, must not intrude into matters they know nothing about.
If the good priest is looking for a cause to channel his efforts into, why doesn't he start by investigating the death of the Catholic charismatic preacher John Baptist Mukajanga, whose fiery messages and exorcism won him a massive following that caused envy and consternation among the priesthood? His mysterious death in July 2016 has been swiftly and conveniently forgotten as people like Fr Lokodo look to fix matters outside their fence. Pastors have their differences too, but I do not know of any pastor who died in such shady circumstances with the smoking gun pointing firmly at his fellow ministers.
Fr Lokodo could choose to aim higher at his Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, whose Good Friday sermon kicked up a storm on Government spies in the church. Prominent pentecostal pastors have lived with the reality of spies in their ranks, but you do not hear us crying like big babies, do you? Why doesn't the ethics minister start by telling his Archbishop to take a deep breath and drink some pumpkin soup to calm him down?
Perhaps Fr Lokodo would want to aim even higher to the Pope who was reported to have said that hell doesn't exist and "unrepentant souls vanish" in thin air, controversial remarks that left Catholics wondering whether to believe Jesus Christ or Pope Francis. The Vatican's rebuttal to the article focused on discrediting the interviewer Eugenio Scalfari, but has not denied the Pope's remarks. In his earthly ministry, Jesus mentioned hell 33 times, always as a place where unregenerate souls went post death. But with one interview, the Pope has undone Jesus' teaching. Maybe Fr Lokodo could help Catholics decide who is more believable between the Pope and Jesus (LOL).
I said all that to say this: The Catholic Church has enough challenges of its own and Fr. Lokodo's charity should begin at home.
The common excuse among the agitators for needless regulation is that believers are being exploited by ‘greedy' pastors. While that could make a good subject for pub talk, it can scarcely be grounds on which regulation is built.
What is exploitation? If I know that the price of bottled water is sh1,000, but I go to a high-end hotel and pay sh6,000 for the same product, does that amount to exploitation? Should that high-end hotel be regulated for manipulating me?
Right now, rosaries are being sold for exorbitant prices, promoted by a big telecom company, because the Pontiff prayed for them. The people who buy those rosaries know the market price, but choose to pay more because of that intangible ingredient called faith.
But when a pastor does the same, idle religious minds scream "exploitation" and seek to misuse their offices to create regulation based on emotion rather than principle.
Churches perpetuate themselves through willing donations from the faithful. All Saints Cathedral in Nakasero is building a worship centre that could cost close to sh20b. Are they involved in any business, aside of course from their overly commercialised wedding programmes? Isn't that money coming from congregants? Is it exploitation only when the recipients are pastors?
Are Pentecostal believers retards that they must be told how much of their money to lavish on their spiritual leaders? Is there any better definition of idleness than telling someone how to spend his money when you had no input in how he earned it?
Faith is a sacrosanct subject and cannot be regulated without being infringed. If certain people are using religion to commit crime, we should focus on the illegality of what they are doing rather than the purported religion of the criminals. I would not want anything the Pope has touched even if it were offered to me free, but I will respect a Catholic who pays over the top for it, because it is his faith.
I expect the Catholic to respect my faith too.
The writer is the founder of Watchman Ministries in Kampala