Religious leaders who don’t speak out on bad governance

This is true about all spiritual leaders. Despite the fact that I am not a religious person, neither a pagan, but only a believer, I highly consider and am strongly aware of the significant importance that religious leaders play in billions of people’s lives.

Many of us are guided and behave in our daily life according to the way we were brought up spiritually. Consequently, spiritual teachers as other social leaders including politicians, influence our lives in ways we are not always conscious about. In case of one of these life shapers of billions of us on the planet doesn’t behave in an appropriate manner that appears to harm our well being, they should be reminded of the wrong they may be doing by anyone with some public cloud.

This week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the highest authority of the Church of England after the Queen, expressed publicly his concerns about the British coalition government which, according to him, was putting people in a situation where “We are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.” As expected, David Cameron, the prime minister, replied publicly stating his disagreement with the religious leader, particularly on issues like debt and welfare and education.

As we all know it is not only in UK where radical policies are decided and implemented by governments, some not even elected, or without proper consultations with their constituencies. The only difference between UK and other similar said democracies compared to unrepresentative governments is that any public personality who expresses a differing opinion on the government policies is not persecuted for their views in the former countries.

Under undemocratic regimes there are evidently risks of speaking out against governments in place. But also not pointing out to them what they may not be doing right is failing the test of trust that their constituencies or followers have put in them. At a wider extent, by shying away from political intervention on issues affecting their followers, religious leaders become accomplices of the tyrants.

As leaders, between representing their followers on issues that impact on their well being and becoming accomplices of dictators, they have to choose. Unfortunately, we know that corrupt regimes infiltrate the religious order and place in such institutions their people who cannot speak against the system.

Imagine how the social landscape would be like in place like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and many others, if religious leaders like the Archbishop of Canterbury could talk openly without fear of persecution, and criticise publicly some governments’ policies. To religious leaders and their followers, particularly under dictatorial regimes, the guess is yours.


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