Fear in the cathedral: Church leaders are failing democracy

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Fear in the cathedral: Church leaders are failing democracy
Robert Kigongo

By Robert Kigongo

If Anglican Ugandan Archbishop Janan Jakaliya Luwum came back to life, he would be ashamed of the generation of religious leaders that succeeded them.

Fear in the cathedral is the daily life of religious leaders today, all compromised and wallowing in silence against human rights violations, corruption, atrocities and backsliding democracy in Uganda.

Constitutionally, Uganda embraces the ‘freedom of religion’ with major faith dominions such as Islam, Roman Catholic and Anglican, Adventist, Orthodox and newly Christian reformations like Pentecostal Evangelical church.

"To ignore evil is to be accomplice to evil," said Martin Luther King.

Religious shepherds have turned into accomplices and enablers of authoritarian regimes across Africa not just Uganda.

For example, During the Annual November 18 and 19 Massacre vigil commemoration prayer day 2023, the Opposition led by National  Unity Platform’s Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, extended invitation to the various religious leaders to conduct prayers.

To our dismay, the religious leader’s unanimously resented the prayers with no excuse until the public and media scrutinised their morality and spirituality values.

On contrary, they respond to all State House partisan invitations in overwhelming numbers raising concerns and public outrage.

My area of contention is ideally, religious leaders are meant to service everyone regardless of political affiliations, gender, race and social status.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Uganda as spiritual religious leaders turn into religious merchants praying and blessing to the higher bidder.

The religious leaders have completely turned a blind eye on the backsliding democracy, industrial scale Corruption and atrocities in Uganda as accomplices.

Men of God have never come out to condemn recent ugly election mal practices that has crippled democracy.

Uganda’s authoritarian regime offers brand new monster vehicles and cash bail handouts to religious leaders as a result even the most eloquent ones end up into a trap of political and moral compromise.

The Pentecostal born-again are the most despicable accomplices of the backsliding democracy, human rights violations and cover ups of atrocities.

For example, Pastor Aloysious Bugingo routinely denigrates NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi political party and often times discouraging people power in assemble and participate in democratic processes.

Bugingo joins a list of pastors that praise gun power which demotivates citizens from participating in democratization of Uganda.

The current NRM authoritarian regime will rule Uganda until the unborn pregnancies will come to life and die at the detriment of democracy by Bugingo.

Bugingo is among the state-sponsored religious leaders who refer democracy as a pseudo idea despite its most obvious good fruits.

In remote rural areas these religious leaders engage in election mal practices and repression of democratic representatives from opposition political parties.

Uganda is grappling with industrial scale corruption scandals to an extent that internal organs have failed to curb it down invoking foreign intervention.

For example; UK government placed sanctions on the Speaker of the 11th Parliament, however the religious leaders keep flocking her multibillion mega mansion for bootlicking and cash handout bails.

The religious leaders have been very vocal against LGBT Human Rights but when it comes to gloss atrocities, corruption and abuse of democracy they are totally mute.

Recently, Bobi Wine fired Mathias Mpuuga, his top organ member as NUP political party deputy president and commissioner in Parliament over service award corruption act of Shs500 million of taxpayer's money.

Sadly, a Catholic bishop from the Masaka province of the accused came out to defend and justify the act.

Tragically, religious leaders condemn Ugandans who are trying to fight for their basic human rights and democracy but sadly cannot condemn Museveni and his kleptocratic regime.

In democratic societies the economic and social cohesion between religious leaders and political leadership is meant to work for people’s wellbeing not against the people’s wellbeing.

According to Office of Inspectorate of Government, Uganda loses Shs9.144 trillion per year due to corruption, an equivalent to 44 percent of total government revenue collections.

Over Shs2 trillion goes to donations to religious leaders despite the country suffering from a huge debt of Shs96 trillion equivalent to $23.7 billion.

Unfortunately, it’s now hard to differentiate between religious leaders and kleptomaniacs to the detriment of democracy safe guards.

My clarion call goes to Uganda Interreligious Council to embark on reforms, reclaim mandate and retool religious leaders in areas of accountable governance and democracy that will enable them to overcome fear and liberate themselves from state of fear and captivity but most importantly reverse their undemocratic actions.

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Mr Robert Kigongo is a democracy deliverer and a sustainable development analyst.

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