We the Member Churches of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) gathered for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Shire Lodge in Liwonde, from 13th to 16thNovember 2012, hereby issue the following communiqué.
The Council membership appreciates the good working relationship government has with the Church and the guaranteed freedoms of worship and association in Malawi. However, the Malawi Council of Churches notes with concern the following contemporary issues:
Homosexuality and Sodomy
The Malawi Council of Churches believes that Malawi is a God-fearing country, and as such, continues upholds that homosexuality and therefore sodomy cannot be part and parcel of the acceptable norms of our society.
The Council furthers expresses that it maintains its stand against any gay practices as they are:
- Biblically sinful Lev. 20 vs 13
- Morally unhealthy
- Divinely against God’s nature Gen. 1:27 , 2 :18-25
The Council is equally concerned that where homosexuality is made legal as some few non-governmental organizations and individuals are demanding, the issue of Sodomy, which is another serious sinful act, will threaten the health and spiritual well-being of inmates in Malawi’s reformation centers or prisons.
We uphold that any right that is outside God’s authority could lead us to death. Minority rights must not be prioritized over all other rights, especially when they offer no common good to the larger interests of the people.
Lake Malawi Border Wrangle with Tanzania
As the Malawian Church, we are equally involved and affected in the ongoing feud on ownership of our Lake Malawi and pray that this issue is resolved amicably. We recommend government for engaging Tanzania in peaceful dialogue and share the Churches and every individual Malawians’ perceptions that Lake Malawi belongs to Malawians.
The Council therefore prays and calls for prayers and spiritual support to the leadership so that meaningful dialogue prevails and that Lake Malawi remains Malawian.
Deforestation – Chikangawa Forest Plantation
The Council is worried that Chikangawa Forest Plantation in Mzimba is being exploited mainly by foreigners that export timber to Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. It is our prayer that government shall address the situation before the plantation is totally destroyed.
God gave the world and all in it for man to take care of, Gen. 1, and we call upon everyone to seriously consider caring for the plantation and all natural resources, and consider serious reforestation.
- Illegal Grain Export – (Wheat, rice, maize, etc)
As the Church we appeal to government to note and take immediate action against the illegal and growing export of maize, wheat, and rice grain to neighbouring countries and other destinations on the expense of the hunger threatened Malawians.
We uphold that government should apprehend violators to safeguard food security, as our national grain silos may not have sufficient reserves. The Council also understands that due to deep poverty levels, people are left with no choice but to opt to sell their grain to make money. We therefore implore on government through Admarc to consider buying grain from the North where it is plenty and being smuggled to neighbouring countries and sell it in the South where it is in less supply.
We take note of the large truck-loads of grain, in particular maize, being sold to foreigners in the North and being transported outside. The Council also calls for all Churches and individuals of good will to join government efforts in making available relief aid to affected places.
Farm Input and Subsidy
A humble plea is addressed to government to put a deliberate policy that would be beneficial to every Malawian irrespective of their social class in to equally access the subsidized farm inputs program. Perpetrators that also violate the program should be taken to task and appropriate laws be engaged to avert more mismanagement.
The Council notes that much of the produce comes from around 88% of the poor subsistent farmers who in turn cannot afford to buy expensive farm inputs on the market, including fertilizer and grain crop. We call upon government to subsidize most of the farm inputs and find long term solutions to subsidies ass we as a nation cannot continue to rely on handouts.
- Freedoms, Rights and Responsibilities
The Malawi Council of Churches understands and supports that the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi guarantees rights and freedoms to its people. It also calls for responsibilities, however, the current situation where human rights start to be used as a key word to immoral and unchristian lifestyles, leaves a lot to be desired.
As the Church, we remain unique as we uphold that rights that are God given should go together with responsibilities, failing which order is challenged. When a right overrides responsibilities and impinges on God’s authority and supremacy, then such rights are not worthy entertaining. As a nation, we are reminded to also put emphasis on responsibilities, both individual and communal, in order to serve the common good.
Every right that does not respect influence of God automatically denies itself. The two must always go together for any democracy to be meaningful.
- Freedom of Dress
As a Christian organization the Council respects government in the manner it approaches critical issues, and therefore proposes that government addresses the general ‘code of dress’ amongst Malawians.
The Council has noted with regret the degenerating and sometimes immoral dressing of the people, where some move around almost naked, with dropped trousers in men and bare breasted in women as some of the examples, despite our rich spiritual and cultural values. It has also unfortunately been noted that men use women’s dressing/clothes including earrings and go as far as braiding their hair.
The basis of freedoms of fundamental rights originates from God – in Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve were guided by God on what to and not to eat. Freedoms and rights must not override responsibilities.
- Prostitution in Malawi
Noting the recent establishment of the Sex-Workers Association in Malawi, the Council wishes to categorically condemn the allowing of Biblically sinful, constitutionally prohibited, and culturally disparaged acts and associations.
Prostitution is both sinful in the light of God and prohibited by the laws of Malawi and therefore the Malawi Council of Churches appeal to government to abide by the Penal Code which criminalizes prostitution.
The Bible says “do not commit adultery” Ex. 20:6 and the Council upholds this divine commandment and believes sanctioning of prostitution is wrong and misguided even under democracy.
- Censorship Board – Powers and Functions
The Council wishes to sympathize with our beloved country on pornographic firms, photos and materials published and circulated through the media which tends to threaten and spoil our Christian values, tradition and culture.
We are aware also of some television and media messages that rather send negative than intended positive messages to target audiences, such as Pakachere, Chenicheni Mchiti and many other programs. These also include some disturbing messages on illustrations, posters, adverts and other medium.
We ask that the Censorship Board revisits its mandate and seriously act by its powers and functions to address the situation and use appropriate laws to stop the malpractice.
- Water Transportation – Ilala and Likoma/Chizumulu Islands
The Malawi Council of Churches has also learned with concern the breakdown of transportation link between Likoma and Chizumulu Islands to the mainland.
As the Church we hold that such ‘isolation’ brings with it suffering to the people on the islands as current private transportation is not only expensive for the common man, but is also threatening to the lives of the travelers as the boats may be overloaded and not have sufficient sea worthiness.
The Council therefore asks that government takes immediate action on this important matter and ensure that the affected people are served as equally as everyone else as we are all created in the image of God.
- Respect for Sunday as a Prayer Day
Upholding that freedoms and rights are integral to the people of Malawi, and that freedom of worship is enshrined in the Constitution, the Malawi Council of Churches wishes to express that Sunday as a day of prayer for the Christian Church.
However, the Council has noted with regret that respect that should be accorded to Sunday is lacking, and that events such as markets, political rallies, and even weddings take place on Sunday during hours that should otherwise be committed to prayer. We suggest that such events take place other days or in the afternoons.
We bemoan that there may be some forces that are working to disturb the Christian church by eroding the importance of this ‘divine’ day.
We appreciate government efforts in ensuring that all Malawians are well provided for in all areas of their basic and strategic needs, and government’s efforts to rebuild and improve on relations with donor partners and nations, and neighbouring governments.
Therefore based on the concerns above, the Council will remain unique from all other civil society and human rights players, as the Church puts emphasis on responsibilities. As the Church, we believe that rights originate from God just as God also gave responsibilities to human kind.
If my people humble themselves and listens and obey my commands I will heal their land, Deut. 22:14
May God bless our nation in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The communique has been signed by
Rev. Alex Maulana – MCC Chaiprperson
Bishop Fanuel E. Magangani – MCC Vice Chairperson
Rev. Dr. Osborne Joda-Mbewe – MCC Gweneral Secretary