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Is Ndanga Persecuting Christian Churches in Zimbabwe?

02 Jun 2014 at 10:35hrs | Views
On Friday the 30th of May 2014 the media was awash with the news that Ndanga, some journalists and the riot police were given a thorough beating by members of Johane Masowe led by Madzibaba Ishmael in Budiriro Harare. We were told that Arch Bishop Ndanga had gone there to announce to the Church members their church have been banned for abusing children and women's rights. While we strongly condemn the use of violence to solve conflicts, it is the powers of the Arch-Bishop and the legality of banning Christian churches in Zimbabwe which progressive minded Zimbabweans questions.

The Arch-Bishop claim that as the president of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe and as the Chairperson of the Administrative Court which was instituted specifically to look into issues of religion had powers to ban wayward Christian Churches. He is quoted saying so during a certain radio interview recently. The staff reporter in an article titled ‘The Day When Everyone Wearing Shoes Became an Enemy' reported that all hell break loose in Budiriro soon after reading the following words ;"With the powers rested in me as the Executive President of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe today on May 30 2014,I have stopped the church…'

It is not the first time that Ndanga had sought or banned a church in Zimbabwe. Ndanga banned the End Time Message which was being led by Gumbura. Gumbura is now serving his 40 year jail term for raping several women in his church. While the author does not subscribe or condone certain practices of certain apostolic churches, Zimbabweans questions where Ndanga gets the powers to ban such churches. First Ndanga claim to get such powers by virtue of him being the President of ACCZ, however Zimbabweans questions if the ACCZ Constitution gives its President the powers to ban other churches in view of the fact that the Zimbabwean constitution guarantees the freedom of association and assembly. Again Zimbabweans questions if the Bishop is empowered by the same ACCZ to dictate the doctrinal faith of other Christian churches which are not affiliated to his organization. Zimbabweans now questions if the bishop is not on a crusade similar to that of Saul of Tarsus.

We are told that Ndanga is the Presiding Judge of an Administrative Court specifically appointed to preside over religious matters. Progressive thinking Zimbabweans questions the credibility of the bishop to preside over such a court since he is both a player and a referee in the game.  Ndanga is a Bishop of his own church, how can he be appointed to preside over a religious Administrative Court? Isn't it possible that the Bishop may move around banning rival churches [for we know that churches like political parties sometimes scramble for membership and fame].

Progressive thinking Zimbabweans questions also the standard or the law which is being used by the bishop to ban certain churches in Zimbabwe. Is he using Biblical laws or civic laws, if he is using the Biblical rules or religious rules will that not tantamount to dictate other Christian Churches' faith. Section 60 of the Zimbabwean Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of thought, opinion, religion or belief, and freedom to practice and propagate and give expression to their thought, opinion or belief, whether in public or in private and whether alone or together with others. The Bishop cannot tell what other churches must or not to believe. The freedom of religion is a fundamental human right covered by article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If the Bishop is not using Biblical rules then he may be using the criminal laws of Zimbabwe and the constitution of Zimbabwe to ban the so-called wayward churches. We Zimbabwean questions if the bishop, a man of the cloth is empowered to enforce criminal laws of the country for we know for sure that the Police Commissioner and the ZRP are the rightful arms of the state entrusted with enforcing the laws of the country. Is the Bishop now a member of the ZRP? If indeed the apostolic churches are abusing women and children let the ZRP investigate case-by-case and arrest the culprits, why ban churches then? There is no need to label other Christian churches as satanic and the Budiriro incident could have been avoided. Ndanga must tell Zimbabweans if he is still a man of the cloth or he is now a government worker and a law enforcing agent to be specific.

Bill Flax a US religious liberty activist once wrote "our fathers never sought to evict the church from society. They recognized that several states did not share uniform values. We lived and worship differently" He went on to mention the French Revolution which you all know was all to do with ‘De-Christianization' of the French Republic. The French were all behind the crusade in the first days but it latter degenerated into bloodshed and oppression. The same applies to this seemingly new crusade against apostolic churches which is being led by the bishop, if the crusade is not checked early it will soon degenerate to religious persecution, discrimination, war and blood bath. The Budiriro incident must be our object lesson and make, whosoever gave the bishop the powers to ban churches in Zimbabwe, to make a rethink. Religious issues are very sensitive and must be handled with caution.

We must never mix politics and religion. Thomas Jefferson [1808] is quoted as saying "Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions [like the ACCZ,my own insertion]that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself' Is this not true to our Zimbabwean context? We are told the apostolic churches which are being banned by the Bishop these days are violating children and women's rights but Zimbabweans questions the sincerity of the Bishop in protecting the rights of children and women. For how long have the Johanne Marange Apostolic Church been marring under age children to older people. It is known that Johanne Marange Apostolic Church member do not want their children to be immunized but the Bishop is not banning Johanne Marange Apostolic Church in Zimbabwe which is the largest apostolic church in Zimbabwe if not in Southern Africa but rushes to ban small churches like that of Gumbura and that of Madzibaba Ishmael.

It is author's call to powers that be that this madness must be stopped and that there must be a total separation between church and state. Men of the cloth must not double both as Pastors and state agents. On criminal issues perpetrated in churches, the police must do its work. Pastors and Bishops must desist from acts which may be viewed as persecution of fellow Christians.

Etiwel Mutero is a religious liberty activist.You can contact him on or on mobile phone +263773614293

Source - Etiwel Mutero
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