Electioneering doesn’t belong in churches

Former president attends a church service. Picture: Twitter

Former president attends a church service. Picture: Twitter

When will church leaders stop selling their members to politicians?

When will church leaders refuse to allow their premises to be used as a place for electioneering, for falsehoods to be sold to their congregants?

This is election time, the time well-tailored suits are pulled from closets filled to the brim to impress churchgoers.

It happens every five years but once you’ve made your cross, those immaculate politicians retreat to their ivory towers. The congregants are forgotten, so, too, their promises.

During apartheid, the church was a safe haven for political activity. Songs spoke to our pain and it was the breeding ground of young freedom fighters who grew from the soil of churches such as Regina Mundi Church in Soweto.

But then, the enemy was common, the enemy was not a transformer.

For now, the enemy transforms daily: we fight against state capture, we protest against the inability for government to secure borders, the ever-declining standard of education, that jobs are reserved for the politically connected – the list is endless.

Earlier this year, Jacob Zuma beamed a Colgate smile as the Zion Christian Church unveiled a school and clinic built by the church.

But not captured by those photographs was the shame and embarrassment Zuma should have felt.

The church identified a service failure by the government and had to provide two basic services … yet Zuma went in all smiles to unveil what the government failed to deliver. Unashamed.

What is it when a congregant heads to church eager to hear the Word, only to be cordoned off in the back as “dignitaries” take the first 10 rows of seating – their only mission for the day: to sell to the congregant promises with very little return guaranteed.

Churches are now mini rallies with no need for renting stadiums and buses to shuttle attendees. When will church leaders stop selling their members to politicians?

If church leaders allow themselves to be manipulated by political parties, it means we are a long way off from a government that is not without ill-intended motives.

Kekeletso Nakeli-Dhliwayo.

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