The Sunday Mail
CHRISTIANS should have a re-look at the way they operate in the country as the pluralist approach in religious and moral studies being implemented by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will leave them exposed.
The new education curriculum from 2015 to 2022, emphasises that learners should be exposed to diverse religions in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Implementing the findings of the inquiry by the 1998 Nziramasanga Commission on education and training, the new framework ensures that Christianity is taught together with other religions such as Islam, Hinduism and the African Traditional.
Page 36 of the document indicates that religion has a “pervasive influence in our society, including the life of learners hence the need for learners to appreciate the diversity and practices of various religions practiced in Zimbabwe”.
Learners are expected to explore the linkages between family values, religion and moral traits as well as identify relationships, moral and character development arising from the different perspectives of family and religion.
This pluralistic approach to religious education has jerked the Christian community from its comfort zone. Christianity has been enjoying dominance in the country since the colonial era.
At a religious forum to discuss issues affecting the Christian community organised by Zimbabwe Faith and Ethics Development Association, Bishop Noah Pashapa, a lecturer of biblical Hebrew and Old Testament studies at the University of Zimbabwe highlighted the challenges that lie ahead for the faith.
“What Minister Dokora is proposing to begin to expose children to all religions in Zimbabwe that are at par will introduce either of two possible new scenarios.
“One possible new scenario is that there would be an erosion or a reduction of the role of Christianity, so that Christianity will now be equated to other religions. Through this, Christianity could easily get undermined and its influence which it currently wields gets sort of watered down,” Bishop Pashapa said.
He added that, “The other scenario is that when another religion either African Traditional Religion or Islam becomes the ascended religion in Zimbabwe. Don’t forget there is a revival of ATR as well and Islam has that upper hand because of money and its avowed theology. In Islam there is no room for separation of state and church. In Islam the kingdom of God incorporates the economics and the politics,” the leader of Life and Liberty International Churches said.
Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe pastor, Dr Titus Murefu said: “From the onset, when God created Adam and Eve, He dealt with the state, He gave him land. When He called Abraham He wanted to give him land, the Israelites were also going to a certain land. So the priest, the prophet and the king used control in the times of the Bible.
“But now our preachers, pastors and leaders have taken people and grouped them into a group of ignorant people who are not taught the meaning of the relationship of the state and religion.
“Even God says I will give you land. God says you will have dominion over the earth but Christians have been prepared to go to heaven only. So I think our pastors should be able to have influence to train the pastor to prepare the faith for the here and now and also for the here and after,” Dr Murefu said.
African Enterprise Evangelistic Zimbabwe leader, Bishop Guide Makore said there was need to have a developmental approach to Christianity.
“We hear a lot of bishops, apostles and prophets telling the nation even through the media how much they are worth. Some claim that they are worth $60 million. But if we don’t build schools, we don’t enhance development in our nation and just claim to have money it doesn’t really make sense. The word must become flesh.
“Further we must pursue how best we can market this and knock on the door of our Christian churches to say man it’s not enough to drive these poshy cars or to have these big mansions. We need to be investing back into the community,” Bishop Makore said.
Dr Constantine Murefu said Christians were leaving in a vacuum with ignorance influencing that space.
“As Christians we are living in a vacuum where we don’t know systems of governance. It’s about time when we do write our scripts, not change actors, but write and make the script right.
“The most powerful person in this country is President Mugabe. But his power is not in his physical capacity to beat anybody but his power is in the script called the Constitution.
“He knows where and how to exercise his dominance. But we as Christians, we are not even going through the scriptures, we don’t know the scriptures, we don’t know the Constitution, we don’t know!”exclaimed Dr Constantine.
The forum put forward suggestions to prepare Christians to represent Jesus Christ in a multi-faith society through conducting training workshops in a multi-religious context.
“Every Christian theological institution must quickly introduce on their curriculum multi-faith studies, world religions and witnessing for Christ in a multi-faith context.
“We must continue churning out the teachers because what Minister Dokora is doing is authorised by the Constitution. What may then happen is certain individual teachers or individual headmasters may themselves personally prefer either ATR or Islam to be dominant in their schools than Christianity.
“That then creates spaces within which those people may pursue their agenda more aggressively. What we just need to do is equip ourselves and make sure that those who are pastoring the teachers are in our churches, the Members of Parliament are in our churches, Government ministers are in our churches. We have the responsibility to equip the church to continue to be salt and light either in a scenario where Christianity is an unofficial state religion or in a scenario where the new Constitution which you and I voted for now says all religions are equal,” Bishop Pashapa added.