The Church & Freedom, Discuss

Sadzaeater's picture
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The Church & Freedom, Discuss

A story that relates to something very close to my heart;

Hunger Strike for Zimbabwe Change

Tutu was instrumental in the activism that led to the downfall of apartheid. He then headed up (at Mandela's behest) the Truth & Reconciliation Commission a body whose work, whilst imperfect in the eyes of many of the aggrieved, did do an incredible amount to heal some of the wounds left by the so-called "seperate development" policy of the minority government in South Africa.

Former Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, prior to the revelations regarding his sex life was an important voice in opposition to Robert Mugabe, even if he did push an agenda that could ultimatley have led to civil war.

We've also seen a powerful symbolic gesture on live British TV and significant criticism from a senior church figure here in the UK.

At what point does this kind of thing become Church getting too far involved in the affairs of State?

Nordmann's picture
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The relevance of my answer

The relevance of my answer depends a lot on why you chose to use the term "getting too far involved".


For a start, I would point out that a minority of christian priests and similar getting involved in humanitarian causes is not new, not too hard to understand, and not going to stop. Remember that christianity is not a philosophy and therefore includes amongst its adherents those sharing a very wide range of views about humanity ranging from hate-filled bigotry through petty, ignorant and vindictive indifference right up to selflessly altruistic engagement in issues of basic justice. All of them think their stances are vindicated by their "faith" which goes to show how suspect a creed it is but, in the case of its more altruistic adherents, only goes to show how misguided attribution is secondary an issue to that of what really motivates them (or anyone) into sticking up for oppressed fellow humans.


Since oppression is most often a characteristic of the interaction between "the state" and "the people" then it is inevitable that those who hold altruistic views will "get involved" with the state, and the question of whether one can ascribe a limit to what is a feasible involvement is not dependent on the religious motivation or otherwise of the person deemed to be so doing. In fact it is far more typically "the state" which would use such terminology, especially when the altruist's activities impinge on its effective functionality.


My own opinion is "fair play to them". Anyone who sticks his or her head above the parapet in order to defend others who otherwise would have no voice raised in their support is doing a good job. It is a shame that some of them might feel that they are doing it through a received wisdom invoked by a mythical deity, but the shame is only that in doing so they are actually limiting their own effectiveness through ascribing their actions to a secondary influence and not the primary one - the logical recognition that an assault committed against any innocent person increases the likelihood of it happening to you. By acting as "christian representatives" they undermine that message through unnecessary complication of its true meaning, and that allows the cynically minded to compartmentalise them and potentially neutralise their effect.


But they are none the less brave for all that.

I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy