A section of the clergy on Wednesday announced that the ongoing debate about political transition in Uganda cannot be left to politicians alone. The group called for the active involvement of all citizens, including religious leaders, ahead of the 2016 general elections.
The religious leaders under their umbrella body, ‘United for Social Justice and Peace in Uganda’, say there is a deliberate misinterpretation of the Scriptures to suggest that politicians should do “Caesar’s bidding and religious leaders God’s”.
“We wish to put to rest, in no uncertain terms, the incessant suggestion and insinuation that politics is off-limits to religious leaders,” said Fr Gaetano Batanyenda, who read the statement on behalf of retired Soroti Diocese Bishop Charles Obaikol, Kitgum Anglican Diocese Bishop Macleod Baker Ochola II, retired assistant Bishop of Kampala Diocese Zac Niringiye, Rev Canon Francis Mutatiina, Sheikh Muhammad Katuramu and Imam Kasozi of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly.
This stance is likely to irritate politicians who have consistently argued that the clergy should remain at the pulpit and not dare tread in the murky waters of politics.
The religious leaders’ summit has not directly responded to that “advice” but some brave bishops and priests have used their “sacred” sermons to take exception to slamming the door in their faces on matters of national importance.
Politics is about the management of society; conflict resolution and distribution of scarce resources.
Going by this definition, it’s not the preserve of politicians to determine how resources should be distributed and whether they have been distributed fairly.
The rule of natural justice demands that all people with a stake have a right to question authority if things are not done in an equitable way. The clergy, just like the ordinary citizens, are equally affected by bad actions and decisions of politicians.
If schools are run-down, hospitals lack medicines and roads are gullied, the clergy are also affected. When there is conflict arising from poor distribution of resources; the clergy, their families and congregations are affected.
Churches have for long been centres for counseling of the sick, depressed and oppressed. In war times, churches become centres for internally displaced people. For religious leaders to comment or give constructive criticism on the way the nation is being run will give politicians points to meditate about.
It has also been rightly noted that religious leaders are the custodians of the conscience of society. Therefore, at the pulpit and on the rostrum, religious leaders make good contribution to the nourishment of the soul and body of the nation.