On August 6, the State-owned television carried some news headlined Churches advised to refrain from politics.
I was alarmed. I got more details the following day when I tuned in to a private TV station.
Former vice-president Khumbo Kachali said this when he visited Chiputula CCAP Church in Mzuzu where the Reverend Dingiswayo Banda received a certificate to preach in all CCAP churches.
The church has been told many times by politicians not to meddle in politics.
Contrary to the advice from political elites, the church must be involved in politics due to its unique origin and mission.
The church is in a class of itself. It differs from all other human societies. It is divine in its origins as it was established by Jesus Christ, who Christians worship as the Son of God.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; … teach them to observe all the commands I gave you,” says Jesus in Matthew 28:19.
The church’s mission is to be an instrument for the salvation of people.
The God whom Jesus came to reveal in person is the liberator who heard the cry of the oppressed and set them free through Moses.
It is the God who confronted powerful kings through his prophets.
When kings abused their power to satisfy their unjust personal interests, prophets spoke up.
In the Bible, the gospel according to John teaches us that Jesus said “that people may have life, life in all its fullness.”
Jesus’ mission was“…to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to free the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19), liberating people from anything that suppressed human dignity and freedom.
He was on the side of the poor, the powerless and under-privileged; he defended them.
The church solely exists to fulfil this mission that human beings may have life in its fullness here on earth and its climax in heaven.
It unapologetically serves the welfare of human beings.
Therefore, anything that affects a person’s welfare and well-being must be the church’s concern.
The people of God take Jesus Christ as its norm. They proclaim and bear witnesses to his message in society.
No other human undertaking affects peoples’ lives greater than politics.
Often, abuse of political power leads to human rights infringements. Selfish politicians hijack and monopolise national resources for the benefit of few people, worsening the suffering and marginalisation of the majority, especially the vulnerable.
As an institution that exists to bear witness to the loving and saving presence of God, the church must speak up when people’s rights are violated by the powerful in society.
They must do this without fear or favour as God intervened through his prophets in biblical times.
Since infringements of fundamental human rights by politicians occur, it is very imperative for the church to be involved in politics and take a stand in the best interest of the oppressed.
As an institution that solely exists to serve the well-being of human beings, the church is well-positioned to uphold Section 12 of the Constitution which states: “All legal and political authority of the State derives from the people of Malawi and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution solely to serve and protect their interests.”
This is why Pope Francis rejected the idea that “a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics. He urged Catholics not to be indifferent to politics, but should offer their suggestions and prayers for their leaders to serve the common good in humility and love.
In his daily homily of September 2013, he said: “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself [or herself], so that those who govern can govern.”