Christianity not about politics – Williams

2011-10-10 13:22

Harare - The head of the worldwide Anglican church said on Sunday during a visit to Zimbabwe that Christianity should not be about politics but about God.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, told more than 15 000 mainstream Anglican worshippers gathered for mass at a city stadium that Anglican worshippers are constantly "tortured by uncertainty and risk of attack" and have endured "mindless and Godless assaults", in the southern African country.

He praised the worshippers for being "active and courageous" amid a bitter dispute between the followers of breakaway Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and mainstream Anglican church worshippers.

Kunonga, a loyalist of longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe, was excommunicated in 2007 by the main Anglican Province of Central Africa and the worldwide head of the church. He was accused of inciting violence in sermons supporting Mugabe's party.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been divided since Kunonga's excommunication. He has taken over the main cathedral, schools and the church's bank accounts.

The schism in the church has left mainstream Anglicans without places of worship and they've experienced intimidation and alleged threats of violence. Last month Kunonga took over Shearly Cripps orphanage which is home to at least 80 children and named after its founder, an Anglo-American missionary who died in 1952.

A flawed ruling in August by Zimbabwe's Supreme Court allowed Kunonga to retain control of Anglican properties until a court appeal by the mainstream Anglican church is resolved. That ruling was made by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who, like Kunonga, is an open supporter of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

"The property belongs to us because of the court judgments, Mugabe was not there in courts when we won," Kunonga said when asked whether the ruling was politically motivated.

Gay marriage

Williams on Sunday urged the worshippers not to be embroiled in violence or retaliation.

"Day by day, you have faced arrogance. We have been treated with so much contempt and scorned by the rich but we give thanks and praise to God for your patience, generosity and endurance," Williams said. "It is not a building that makes the church, but spiritual foundation."

The Archbishop is expected to meet Mugabe on Monday to discuss an end to the disruptions.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Kunonga and his supporters demonstrated outside Harare's main cathedral against Williams' visit.

Kunonga insists he split from the Anglican church because of its position on gay marriage.

Leaders of the global Anglican Communion have condemned gay relationships as a violation of Scripture. However, the Anglican Communion is loosely organised without one authoritative leader such as a pope, so some individual provinces have decided on their own that they should move toward accepting same-gender unions.

Mugabe is a bitter critic of homosexuality.

Kunonga led the demonstrations on Sunday because he said Williams' visit to Zimbabwe is a "crusade for gays".

"This is a demonstration against homosexuality. I told people to come and demonstrate if they wanted," Kunonga said. "Rowan Williams erred by accepting homosexuality and that has broken up the church all over."

  • Magoo - 2011-10-10 13:55

    This Kunonga guy can not apply ZANU (pf) mentality to the church. These are not medieval times. Leave the Anglican church to the judgement of God if its doing anything wrong, don't use it as an excuse to steal property and induce suffering.

      daaivark - 2011-10-10 14:07

      He not only can, but has already done so. Has seized property, land, even bank accounts of churches affiliated to the Church of England. This was done at lightning speed and evictions were assisted by troops. This crime took place quite a while ago and the Anglican congreation was also effectively split. Those who support Kunonga get the nice buildings etc - and of course their financial contributions go straight into his pocket, while the traditional Anglicans hold services in tents and other public spaces.

      W Mukori - 2011-10-10 15:20

      Mugabe has caused a lot of suffering in Zimbabwe in the name of "the people" and now Kunonga is doing the same in the name of "God"! It is a mad world!

  • boby.mafi - 2011-10-10 15:14

    I beg to differ, Christianity is very much about politics.The question is what kind of politics?Surely the Church, especially the post-modern Church should not engage in repressive politics.Any politics that is aimed at disempowering minorities should be condemned by the Church including homophobia.

      Matt :-) - 2011-10-10 15:24

      It's kind of sad that the Anglicans in Zimbabwe stick closer to the Word of God than the country which started the Anglican Church, and have to protest to their Archbishop just to make Biblical stuff known. Yes, the UK sent out all the missionaries centuries ago and in today's environment desperately needs them back!!! (I'm from UK btw)

  • Fakmore - 2011-10-10 22:03

    15,000 christian rally is a small crowd in Zimbabwe. When the Pope came to Zim, he addressed 1 million people at Borrowdale race course. Pasto Chris of Christ Embassy addressed 70,000 . The Apostolic Church of Johan Marange boasts a 500,000 pilgrims each year. The Archbishp of Canterbury is a Gay Gangster...on a visit to promote homosexuality in Africa...we all know how Mugabe and other civilised people think about gays.

  • Jeff Gama - 2014-11-21 12:41

    Hosea 4:6 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

  • pages:
  • 1