SO far the Church has played an important role in Zambia’s fight against Covid-19 as is expected from this sector of society.However, over a period of time there has been an observation that Covid-19 public health adherence has started to lapse and this is where the church can step in regardless of denomination or location.Besides, churches have been reinforcing the measures Government introduced through statutory instruments aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus and so they can actively take up the role of whipping citizens into conformity.They must advise their congregants to worship at their homes because of limited capacity to ensure every worshipper adheres to the rules of washing hands, keeping at least one metre distance from one another, avoiding handshakes and wearing of face masks.However, we are disturbed to learn that there are some misguide pastors misleading their followers to ignore the rules in preference for prayer. One is left to wonder what Bible these charlatans read because the Holy Book is replete with examples of the Children of Israel observing strict health precautions such as burying human waste in the sand with a hoe while in the desert.Government should not be soft with such preachers because they are a danger to society. They must be caged to save their gullible followers.We are happy that in the past Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili has warned those pastors preaching against the public health guidelines that they will be arrested.Reverend Sumaili has made it clear to these sons of the devil masquerading as God’s servants that it is a crime to preach against preventive measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, huge gatherings and regular hand-washing.Instead of helping their followers protect themselves, their families and members of their communities from the Covid-19 they are putting them in its path.Some pastors, who preach on buses, are telling people that wearing of masks does not help, insisting that the Covid-19 is a demon and not a normal virus which can only be eliminated through divine intervention.What is sad is that many Zambians, including those with a decent level of education, are willing to believe such nonsense. These are the same liberal preachers who have led many people living with HIV and AIDS to their premature deaths by misleading them into stopping taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) alleging that the virus is a demon.Many of the victims of their lying tongues have only realised that they have been duped when it too late. By the time they have been re-enrolled on ART their immunity has completely collapsed rendering their bodies incapable of fending off even the most minor opportunistic infections.Now they are claiming that Covid-19 is a demon and can only be defeated through supernatural powers and not the preventive measures Government has put in place.But Rev Sumaili said such messages are misleading and warned such pastors of arrest.Sometimes you wonder where these imposters were trained and when they were ordained. It is easy to judge from their demeanour and incoherent preaching that they are not even pastors.And why have they found buses such an attractive fishing ground for their mostly unclear and disjointed messages? If you ask any of them which church or organization they belong to chances are that they are loners eking a living out of abusing the word of God.But Rev Sumaili has a message for them:“They will be arrested because misinformation especially on this matter is a serious crime. We will not continue watching pastors going round lying to people that Covid-19 was a demon and telling them to stop adhering to the guidelines given.”We agree with the minister that it is wrong for people to take advantage of innocent citizens who were desperate to see the pandemic come to an end.People must be weary of such pastors.They have every right to stop a pastor purveying those lies. They can even eject the charlatan from the bus or effect a citizen’s arrest and hand him over to police or council security.We also urge those churches that are pestering councils with requests for overnight prayers to tell their members to use their homes to present their petitions to God.
Coming from the commemoration of the World AIDS Day that falls on December 1, it is important for the church to work towards promoting responsible health practices to avoid needless suffering and death.