Monday, November 26, 2012

Righteousness and Prayer Exalt a Nation even if many Don’t Agree

How far should our concept of “separation of church and state” take us? Should a president never mention anything about his personal faith? If so, then almost every politician has violated this principle. But should a president lead his nation in prayer? Evidently, the Ugandan president thinks that this is legitimate, even necessary:

  • The Ugandan newssite New Vision reports President Yoweri Museveni celebrated Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain at the National Jubilee Prayers event by publicly repenting of his personal sin and the sins of the nation.
  • “I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness,” Museveni prayed.
  • “We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal,” Museveni said.
  • “Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict,” Museveni prayed.
Admittedly, I find Museveni’s pray so utterly refreshing and needful. But doesn’t such a prayer represent the establishment of a national religion? Clearly not! President Obama had Pastor Rick Warren pray at his commencement. In fact, Congress has never made a move to remove congressional prayer!

But wouldn’t such a prayer marginalize some of Uganda’s citizens? I’m sure it would! However, feelings of marginalization aren’t always measures of truth. Besides, doesn’t every presidential proclamation marginalize someone? Isn’t someone going to feel offended or slighted? Of course!

I certainly felt very marginalized in High School, having to attend their assemblies and pep rallies. I had felt that these “sacred” assemblies disaffirmed everything that I was about. I felt deeply offended – even before I could put it into the correct verbal form – having to mindlessly spout “Yea team,” when I didn’t care at all whether they won or lost.

Was the school wrong for coercing me to participate in behavior contrary to my honest inclinations? I see things differently now. Schools can only survive and fulfill their mandate if they have the authority to enforce a certain degree of conformity. Should the pep rally have been part of this mandate? I don’t think so, but I must admit that if the school enforced the program of my choice – “Why Christianity should be Banned” (at least, that’s the way I felt at that time) – others would have been offended. Besides, this programming wouldn’t have helped the school fulfill its mandate.

Well then, how are nations to fulfill their mandate to serve their citizenry? As a Christian, I think that there can be no better example than Museveni’s pray. This is the best way to acknowledge our need for Divine help and to position ourselves to receive it. It’s also the best way to pursue the welfare of our countrymen, even those who would oppose such a prayer.

Not everyone will approve of Museveni’s pray; nor should we expect otherwise in a democratic society. However, Ugandans mustn’t say “He has no right to invoke his faith in national matters.” After all, our faith and values govern almost all of our decisions. Instead, they have the ballot box, but before they cast their ballot, they should consider their own welfare – whether they have benefited under Museveni’s presidency.

No comments:

Post a Comment