Monday, April 30, 2012

From All-Africa-

Outspoken Church of Uganda Kampala Diocese Assistant Bishop, Zac Niringiye, spoke to The Independent's Mubatsi Asinja Habati about his crusade for the restoration of presidential term limits.

There are people who think you are a politician putting on a cleric collar. What do you think?

Religion and politics interface in the common life of the people. Just as politics should be about the welfare of the people, religion is about the wellbeing of the people. In that sense, you can't say one thing is religious and the other is political. However, there should be a line between the political and religious offices. In the structuring of political power, those who contest for political office are contesting to have the authority to create, distribute and to be in charge of management of public resources and public space. The religious leadership also has the responsibility of a different kind: to help the same people to able to lead lives that are responsible, just, and social and empowered, loving God and neighbour. You therefore cannot separate religion and politics. We should also remember that religion has political dimensions and politics has religious dimensions.

In this country the process of holding a political office is now through political parties. If the question is Can religious leaders take a political party position or occupy political office? The answers are varied depending on the religious traditions. In my church, the Church of Uganda (Anglican) if a religious leader decides to vie for political office he has to resign his religious office; in fact the Church even requires him or her to remove ecclesiastical garb, such as collars, because he or she is now taking a partisan political position. But if the question is as to whether those of us who occupy religious offices as religious leaders should engage political issues - issues that affect the welfare of the people, then the answer is clear. Political discourse is about issues that affect the lives of the people and therefore we, their leaders have both the religious responsibility as well as being responsible citizens, to participate in the discourse. Please remember that religious leaders are citizens. We are affected by political decisions in our ordinary lives.

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