An ethical assessment of the relationship between the mainline churches and the state in Zambia

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Zwanyika, Moses
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In Zambia efforts have been made by both the state and the church to build a good working relationship, especially in the provision of education and health services. Despite these efforts, the debate is not yet settled on what this proper relationship should be between the church and the state particularly when it comes to issues of social justice and other national issues with controversial moral and political implications. This research’s main focus is to evaluate the church-state relations in Zambia from an ethical point of view. The specific objectives were: to investigate the general historical situation of uneasy relations between the church and the state; to discuss in general the different types of church-state relations and their implications; to give an ethical assessment of the current situation in Zambia on church-state relations; and to make some recommendations on appropriate church-state relations in Zambia. The study consisted of a combination of empirical and philosophical research. In empirical research, data were collected from primary and secondary sources. Primary data in this research were collected using semi-structured interviews. Purposively chosen officials from various Church Leaders, Political Parties, Law Association of Zambia, and the Non-Governmental Organizations. Secondary data was collected from books, journals, newspapers and the internet. Different ethical principles were used to assess the data. They include Kant’s principles of actions that are morally permissible: his famous categorical imperative, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the utility principle and John Rawls’s theory of justice and political liberalism. Kantian ethics of the categorical imperative has been used to argue for the dignity and worthiness of all human beings regardless of their religion. According to the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 18 “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” This has been used to argue for the position that all religions have freedom of operation and the state has an obligation to give equal religious freedom to all faiths. The principle of utility has been applied as the best way to decide on the proper role of religions in public life by identifying the benefits that they will have in the case of excluding religion from the public life and costs of the same exclusion. John Rawls’ theory of Justice and his idea of overlapping consensus have been applied to determine the appropriateness of church-state relations in Zambia. In Zambia we have different religions and the primary concern of Rawls is justice and the stability of society. The well-ordered society is a fair system of cooperation where all members accept a political conception of justice. It has been concluded that there is need to have that relationship of mutual respect between the church and the state. The church and state are not opposed to each other; both are in the service of human beings, so between them there must be dialogue, cooperation and solidarity. We must recognize the decisive role religion can play in the political and social context of our cultural and religious background. The church may intervene in the affairs of the state if such intervention promotes relevant principles of freedom, equality, human happiness, respect for persons, fairness and justice.
Church and state--Zambia , Religion and state--Zambia