Bahai News - Behaviour of the Churches is not what Somhlolo expected

Behaviour of the Churches is not what Somhlolo expected

Photo: "BISHOP Zwane... Told white missionaries where to get off where Swazi moral issues were concerned."

FROM the grapevine comes the news that the churches in Swaziland are mobilising their members to submit to the Constitutional Review Commission that only Christianity should be a recognised religion in Swaziland. What an outrageous idea!

The churches certainly do not represent the Umculu invited by Somhlolo to Swaziland. This is obvious from the behaviour of the churches towards other religions. At present there is the problem of sharing air time at the Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services to communicate to all followers of religions, about their own religion.

The Churches, not Christians, are resisting this. I am making a distinction between churches and Christianity because the Spirit of Christ is not what you find in churches which are infested with cut-throat competition for members. Christ allowed everyone a chance to make a choice whether to believe in Him or not. The churches are closing people off so that they do not have access to free information, so that they can decide on their own. It is obvious that Somhlolo, who was the architect of Swazi unity with all the tribes that were found in the country could not understand the divisive attitude displayed by the churches which claim to be preaching the gospel in Swaziland because of the invitation from him.

It is true that they were invited by Mswati II but Mswati mistakenly thought that these represented the people his father had foretold. It is obvious now that it was a great mistake. It was a great mistake which was realized by Mswati II while he was alive, which is reason he attacked the missionaries in Mahamba soon after they had arrived so that they again ran away from Swaziland to Zululand. It was clear to Mswati that these missionaries were bringing teachings which were contrary to the Swazi Law and Custom, since they condemned most of what Swazis did.

It is interesting that those who want to make us believe that churches are here because of the invitation of King Somhlolo, do not state that Mswati fetched the missionaries and then ended up chasing them away. The missionaries that are in Swaziland invited themselves here. They are no longer the group that was invited by King Mswati.

I have great respect for Bishop Mandlenkhosi Zwane, of the Catholic Church, who was a forthright priest and the told the truth under whatever circumstances. I am using churches here because that was his definition of the activities of missionaries in the country. One day we had a National Education Advisory Board meeting in Mbabane, in which he was a member, along with Miss Scutt.

There were others who attended such as Bishop Mncina of one of the Zionist churches. This was way back in 1980. There was a topic that was put forward by the Ministry of Education, seeking advice from the National Education Advisory Board about how to introduce the subject of sex education in schools.

Whilst we were all considering how to tackle this sensitive subject, the first to speak was Miss Scutt. She stated that there was no need to discuss this subject since the children need to be told that they have to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and then they will not indulge in any premarital sex. The response from Bishop Zwane was strong and vehement. He told Miss Scutt that it is such dreams of missionaries that have ruined the Swazi Nation. He said the Swazi Nation knew how to train their children to have strong morals and upright character He charged it was these misguided missionaries who brought their abominable churchianity into Swaziland.

It is this churchianity which brought utter chaos into the life of the Swazi people. He asked Miss Scutt why it is the Swazi girls who become pregnant when their own children do not become pregnant. What do they teach their own children, which they do not teach the Swazi girls? It is clear that you brought your churchianity here to destroy the Africans, he said. He condemned churchianity's shortsightedness for destroying the good customs of the Swazis which has led to a general breakdown of Swazi morality in all spheres of Swazi life. He spoke at great length giving various examples of how churchianity had destroyed the respectable system of Swazi life.

I am not able to repeat some of the things here because they were only meant for adults, and this paper is read by everyone. Miss Scutt was almost in tears as most of the Swazis who were of members of this National Education Advisory Board agreed wholeheartedly with what Bishop Zwane had said. I was personally surprised by the frankness of Bishop Zwane and also his description of the missionary activities as not Christianity, but churchianity.

On second thought, I realised that Bishop Zwane was absolutely right. There is a big difference between Christianity and Churchianity. Christianity belongs to Christ and Churchianity belongs to the churches. Churches may or may not have Christ in them. I am reminded of another story involving churches. In America, there was a white church. One black man tried several times to enter into this white church to worship God. Each time he went there, he was told to go away. He tried several times. The last time he was so hurt he broke down and wept. On his way home he met Jesus Christ. Christ asked the man why he was weeping. The man answered that he had tried several times to enter that church, but each time he was turned away. Christ answered him thus: "I have tried, for the last 2000 years to enter that church, but I have always been turned away. So if you want to go to that church to worship Me, I am not there."

The churches in Swaziland are demonstrating that it would be impossible for Christ to be in them. We made an innocent request as Baha'is and other religions to be given time over the radio to conduct services or devotions. The Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service did not object It only explained that historically the responsibility for the religious broadcasts was given to the church organisations.

It would be necessary, if the other religions wanted to participate, to have an open discussion with the churches. We welcomed this idea, and looked forward to a meeting with our Christian brothers.

As Baha'is we believe in Christ. As Moslems we believe in Christ. As Traditional Religionists we believe in Christ. None of us are against Christianity and Christ. We were very surprised when it took such a long time for the meeting to take place. The next time we heard what was happening was when the matter was being discussed in a Conference of the church organisations.

Even at this point, the point was not to agree on a date to meet, but how best to avoid a meeting with the Baha'is and others until the new constitution is promulgated. It is reported from reliable sources that the aim is to mobilise all the followers of all the churches to ensure that in their submissions to the Constitutional Review Commission they should all speak in one voice that Christianity or Churchianity be the only religion allowed in Swaziland. This must be proclaimed in the constitution, they say. This will ensure that there will be no need to discuss the subject of whether other religions should be allowed to use the public radio.

This public radio is paid for with our taxes. If we take into account the hundreds of professional Baha'is and their high income earning ability, their income tax can actually finance the SBIS for 12 months of the year.

To the churches, this has no meaning. It is clear to them that it is that the Baha'is and Moslems must finance the station, in order that churches should be the only ones who have access to the radio for devotions. This is indeed a scandalous act. Christ weeps with a sore heart when he sees such treacherous decisions perpetrated in His own Holy Name.

The myopic decision by the churches that they can block the teaching of other religions in Swaziland through the promulgation of a Constitution that will forbid freedom of conscience is so archaic that it is even impossible to conceive how they could delude themselves that this is possible.

One is reminded of an earlier attempt by the churches to stop the teaching of the Baha'i through an appeal to King Sobhuza II. King Sobhuza told them that the Baha'is have as much right to freely teach the Baha'i Faith in Swaziland, just as they too are free to teach their churchianity. It was up to the people to decide what to believe. He asked: "How do we know if you are not the false prophets." Thus that wise king foiled their evil designs.

We are not certainly advocating that the Baha'is only should be given a chance on the public radio. We have many groups which are not given a chance. I have never heard the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists given an opportunity to expound their beliefs on the public radio. I hardly hear of the Zionists who are in the majority in the country given an air commensurate with their numbers in the country. It is even worse with the traditional religion which is embraced by all followers of all the religions in the country that it is never given a chance.

It is a great pity that our children do not get an explanation through the radio what is meant by Mvelinchanti, Mlentemunye, Ancestors- emadloti. There is no explanation to them what is meant by death and what happens to soul when it leaves the body, according the belief of the Swazis.

This puts a big rift between our children and ourselves for they fail to understand the roots of Swazi culture, while at the same time they are strangers to the European culture. This creates a morally unbalanced member of society. Churches have done this and they continue dividing the nation so that it remains highly unstable. There is no question that Somhlolo would definitely not invite an agent of division into the nation.

It is clear that Somhlolo foresaw a time when there would be a universal unification of the whole human race, when there would be only one religion for all mankind, and when there would be peace and tranquillity among all the nations of the world, when there would be no nation that spills the blood of another. This will not be brought about by the churchianity, but will be brought about by following the Umculu, that has been brought into this world by God through Baha'u'llah.

©Copyright 1999, The Times of Swaziland

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