Christian identity in draft constitution
ZAMBIA'S LATEST DRAFT constitution has guaranteed freedom of worship and also maintained the 16-year-old declaration of the southern African country as a Christian nation.
According to Part five of the draft constitution (full text), which was released to the public in May 2012 for public scrutiny, all Zambians have a right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. This means that Zambians will continue to enjoy their freedom to practice any religion of their choice without state control.
This proposed legislation means that the country does not recognize any single Christian church, but citizens can choose their own denomination.
If passed, the draft constitution also seeks to allow religious institutions to establish, maintain and operate education facilities in order to help the already struggling Ministry of Education which is at the moment failing to maintain its schools spread across the country.
At the moment, Zambia has hundreds of churches spread across the country, and some years ago they had increased in number to an extent where the government threatened to stop registering new ones due to a perception that some clergy were personalizing and commercializing evangelism.
Meanwhile, the draft constitution has also maintained a clause which proclaims Zambia as a Christian nation.
In its preamble, the draft constitution states: “We the people of Zambia in exercise of our constituent power, acknowledge the supremacy of God Almighty, declare the republic a Christian nation but uphold the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom of conscience or religion.”
If this preamble will be adopted, Zambia will continue observing Christianity as its official religion and also allowing other religions to continue operating in the country.
During last year’s general elections, the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation was a huge campaign issue which saw some politicians accusing each other of planning to scrap the Christian-identity statements from the constitution.
Newly elected President Michael Sata (pictured above right), who is a devout Catholic, has on several occasions emphasised that he would govern the country on the Ten Commandments as contained in the Christian Bible.
He has further told the nation that being a Christian nation is not enough but should be coupled with the observance of the Ten Commandments.
Since 1964 when Zambia gained its independence from Britain, the country was officially a secular state until 1996 when late President Frederick Chiluba amended the constitution and declared Zambia a Christian nation.
Despite the declaration, other religions such as Judaism, Islam and Hinduism have continued to grow, with Muslims building numerous mosques around the country.