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Zambian bishops reject 'religious ministry' plan

Heads of two major church bodies sign letter against proposed 'Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs'

20.09.2016
Zambian bishops reject 'religious ministry' plan FILE PHOTO

Lusaka

By Francis Maingaila

LUSAKA, Zambia 

Two of Zambia’s biggest church bodies rejected on Tuesday government plans to create a new religious affairs ministry.

In a joint pastoral letter released in Lusaka, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) said given the various financial and economic challenges the country is facing a new ministry would only further strain the national treasury.

The rejection is a blow to President Edgar Lungu who has said the proposed Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs would help unite the country by promoting Christian values.

However, two of Zambia’s three church mother bodies feel forcing people from other religions to embrace Christian principles would be against their human rights.

“We neither see the creation of the new ministry as a top priority on a national agenda nor a prudent decision, further expressing their belief that Zambians want their country to be a democracy rather than a theocracy,” read a pastoral letter jointly signed by ZCCB president Archbishop Tresphore Mpundu and his CCZ counterpart, Bishop Alfred Kalembo.

Although Zambia was declared a Christian nation in 1996, the constitution still retains a clause which recognizes the presence of other religions.

According to the current constitution, Zambia is a multi-faith country. However, this has divided Christians; a third church body, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, supports the idea of a new religious ministry.

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