On 1st January I ventured to church, after a very long while. I say after a very long while because over time it has become increasingly evident to me that the church does not have the capacity to fulfil my spiritual needs. Indeed in the modern state, the biggest failure of the church is to cater to the complex demands of a more sophisticated laity. For it is still a church of brimstone and fire. And the pastor did not disappoint when the time to deliver his sermon came to pass.
The sermon was nothing to write home about so we wont go there. However, in the midst of the congregation was a Government minister whom he wanted to invite to ‘talk to the people’. So he justified the invitation by stating (without blinking) that the church and the state were connected. Indeed when reverends in the Church of Uganda were swearing an oath of allegiance, they swore loyalty to the state. That is why the Church didn’t pay taxes! Therefore on the 1st of January, Easter and Christmas, the representative of the Government had to say something to the people. And it was his duty, since the church and state were connected, to invite the honourable minister to say something to us! ‘Did we understand what he was saying’, he asked. It was then that I blinked! I feebly shouted ‘No!’ but I didn’t have the strength to embarrass myself in church. After all, I rarely came to this place and yes, I was here to attend baby Irene’s baptism.
My problem with this unholy alliance would have ended there, had I not read in the Monitor Newspaper of January 3rd, about an Archbishop complaining about the state of the national referral hospital. “I went to Mulago Hospital to visit John Wafula (late) but I was disappointed with their service. I spent over 20 minutes in the corridors with several patients with no services,” he said, according to the Monitor. Whom is the venerable Archbishop fooling? Is the problem Mulago, or those responsible for the condition of Mulago? In the previous public utterances, another Bishop from the Catholic Church condemned demonstrators and accused them of causing trouble for others. Top honchos in the Muslim faith have also had a spat at antigovernment protestors, claiming that they were causing trouble. Is there a pattern here or am I reading the tea leaves wrong?
The state has been magnanimous to the church; giving to several men of the cloth four wheel drive vehicles on their elevation to bishop hood. In turn, the Church has ignored the constitutional declaration of Uganda as a secular state. It has also ignored its role of being neutral as political foes face off in acrimonious elections and demonstrations. In failing to remain neutral and act as an arbiter as ‘the children of God’ quarrel, the church seems to have entered an unholy alliance with the state. Taking alms from one set of antagonists and bedevilling another set of antagonists. It is the duty of the state to keep law and order, and it is the role of the church to cater to our spiritual needs. But the Church cannot choose which set of God’s children is right and which is wrong! Because to do so, is to strike a pact with Caesar. Did the men of the cloth (there are no women here) selectively choose to forget some of the teachings of Jesus, whom they profess, is the Son of God?
There are no prizes here for the right answer. While the state does not brook interference by the church, unless it is to offer longevity prayers, many in the Church by looking to cater for their worldly needs, have embraced the state with devilish relish! Over to you men of God.