ZITUKULE Consortium executive director Nicholas Phiri says the Church has now become an accomplice of manipulation and is being used by the ruling elite to gain access to the masses.

In an interview, Phiri argued that the PF had constructed the deteriorated economic environment to manipulate the vulnerable masses through the Church that was being used as a tool to advance the ruling party’s interest.

“What has happened in this country is that the politicians, those ruling, have created a political and economical environment, which has made every sector of society vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation. Every sector, be it political leadership, traditional, every sector in this country is now vulnerable and under siege, it’s either you swim or you sink with your integrity. And ordinarily, you would have thought that the Church would be the last call of integrity and morality so that when all the other sectors of society are sinking or are swimming with those in power, the exploiters of natural resources, you would think the Church would remain resilient because they are the custodian of the word of God and by extension morality in the country. But what has happened, now, is that some church organisations are even worse off than political parties,” Phiri said.

“In fact, they use the pulpit to make money and not to save souls! The same politicians that today would be welding pangas, committing all sorts of injustice, when they go to church, instead of taking them to the confession room, they take them to pledge money! And the pastors, preachers and the priests forget to point out the wrong in the people, to correct the wrong in people because of money, so indeed, the Church has become an accomplice, the Church is staining its blood with violence, with corruption, with all sorts of criminality!”

Phiri said the church’s failure to question the injustice occurring in the country implied that the Church had become a perpetrator.

“Can you imagine up to now, the Church has not raised its voice on what happened during the so-called gassing where more than 50 lives were lost to mob justice and these are moral issues the Church should have been interrogating. What happened to those souls? What happened to those souls, the Church is quiet, but they are busy seeking interventions from politicians for the building of this cathedral, the building of that cathedral. And yet, Jesus is not interested in the cathedrals, he is interested in the social justice so where we are now? The Church has become an accomplice in the social injustice and has become an accomplice, not only an accomplice, but even a perpetrator because they are in the forefront of inviting these politicians, not for salvation but for their economical survival and means and that’s so shameful!” he complained.

He urged Zambians to see the Church for what it had now become before they fell victim to some of its maneuvers.

“And that’s why we, as Zitukule, have maintained that the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation is a sham! It’s a scandal! It’s a political scandal, well schemed to suit those in power because they know that in this country, people hardly question Christianity. Everything that comes in the name and by the name of Christianity goes unquestioned. And this is what politicians are riding on. So, we, as a people, must interrogate just beyond, ‘no, I’m a pastor, I’m a politician…’ We have to see these churches for what they are; they are not speaking out against violence yet it’s their members that are victims. There is now the issue of tribalism, are we now not equal in the image of God? They are not talking about that. So, what are they there for? And that’s why even the creation of the Religious Ministry, why was it created? It was for the continuation of the propaganda! Even in Bill 10, people were saying they have put in Christianity and people denying Bill 10 are denying Christianity, we have had Christianity, even before Bill 10,” said Phiri.

“So, why would you want to bring Christianity in the Bill? Christianity is about conviction or the heart, but more so, it’s about the attitude of the person, you cannot call yourself ‘humble’, the next minute you are (saying) ‘even if I lose power, I won’t relinquish power!’ You cannot say, ‘we are going for a national day of prayer’ when you had not reconciled with your friend. The Church is interested in the money now and not the heart. So, now, I think the long and short is that our people are being manipulated because they believe in Christianity. But no matter how much we pray, it will not take the mediocrity out of us until we decide as a people that we cannot be mediocre like this. Time has come to see the Church for what it is and to see politicians for who they are.”