Friday, June 23, 2006

Church criticizes National Day of Prayer in Zimbabwe

Dear friends,

What happens when the church speaks out about the government's co-optation of religious leadership? 

Might we be labeled "agents of violence and purveyors of falsehood," like the church in Zimbabwe?

I guess we'll find out -- when we speak up.


Mugabe anger at church criticism
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has condemned some churches as "agents of violence and purveyors of falsehood".

Mr Mugabe made his remarks after church leaders called for a boycott of a national day of prayer on Sunday, which the president was planning to attend.

He also warned the opposition Movement for Democratic Change that it was dicing with death if it went ahead with a planned wave of street protests.

Zimbabwe is suffering a deep economic crisis, with inflation at over 1,000%.

Speaking during a passing-out parade for police recruits on Thursday, Mr Mugabe sent a warning to those "who claim to be champions of democracy while, in fact, they are willing conduits of violence", the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

"The agents of violence and purveyors of falsehoods about the country, who regrettably have included a few churches and civil groups, should be warned that the long arm of the law will not allow them to disrupt business and disturb the rights of individuals who seek an honest living in our society," Mr Mugabe said.

Boycott call

The Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, is among church leaders who have called for a boycott of a national day of prayer planned for Sunday, after it emerged that Mr Mugabe is planning to take part.

Mr Mugabe's latest warning is similar to remarks he made in April, as the country marked its independence anniversary.

His threats have come at a time when the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic change, has been weakened by an internal split.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has called for mass protests against Mr Mugabe's government.

The opposition and donors say Mr Mugabe has ruined what used to be one of Africa's most developed economies.

He says the economic problems are the result of a Western plot by those opposed to his seizure of white-owned farms.


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