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Religion and Politics in Papua New Guinea│Seing it from Jesus's Perception
Election in Papua New Guinea brings lot of sweet and bitter memories. Especially in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea, tribal fighting and election related deaths are very common. Not more often of such a behavior is observed in the coastal areas but a shift in mindset over the years due to Highlands influence has seen to cause some hiccups during election this year.
Lives are lost, properties are destroyed and court battles are fought. Why? You don’t need a degree to understand this situation. We have leadership problem at the highest governmental level, the National Government. PNG’s political, economic and social development over the years is strongly shaped by its cultural background. Now with the recently introduced religion, the Christianity, which many Papua New Guineans proudly unashamedly claim to be one, there is a huge yawning gap in the way we leaders understand how politics and religion merge or diverge.
The chaotic result being the hypocritical use of religions means to gain power and abuse of core principle of religion. So we ask politics and religion, where do they merge and where do they diverge? This is my take on the question. You may have your opinion, which I respect. Please comment on the comment section below and we shall discuss more.
I want to discuss this issue using Jesus Christ's perception. Because we Papua New Guineans claim to be Christians, meaning we are followers of Jesus. So lets see how Jesus dealth with the issue of religion and politics.
2012 election in Papua New Guinea (PNG) came and went. The high number of Christian leaders like pastors and priests that contested in this year’s election leaves one wondering if it is allowable or proper in religion context. The bible describes several events in the ministry of Jesus when he was brought to face some political situations. How he handle those political situations with his words and deed lives much for the Christians to learn from. Jesus, the great philosopher knew too well that such a question will arise in certain circumstances well after his death. So he drew a fine and distinguishable line between religion and politics.
So is it proper for pastors and priests to enter politics?
Some case scenerios
Let’s briefly see how Jesus viewed politics. The most famous political encounter Jesus had just before his death is recorded by gospel writer John (John 6: 10-15). Impressed by his excellent leadership qualities, many of Jesus’s contemporaries were desperate for a ruler to who could solve their economic and political problems. Is this situation not different from Christians in Papua New Guinea? Did he put up his hand and become the elected member of his province, putting up his poster filled with fancy policies saying “Putting God first, free education and health blah blah blah….? “Jesus, knowing that they were about to seize him and make him king (political post) withdrew again and went into the mountains alone.
Before that, Jesus was asked by some political activist if Jews should pay taxes to Roman. This is a political question. What did he say? Payback Caesars’s things to Caesar and God’s things to God. Once again, he refused to be involved in politics. If he went ahead and made a decision, it could well have been a political decision.
Jesus was unmoved as a religious leader-How?
Problems such as poverty, corruption and injustice did not leaved Jesus unmoved. Yes he was touched deeply by the pitiful state of the world around him (Mark 6:33, 34). The pastors and priest use the poverty, corruption and injustice as their excuses to break into politics. Jesus however, refused to join politics so why should our pastors and priests do? I am tempted to assume that our pastors and priest enter politics under the banner of religion for selfish monetary gains.
Jesus did not lead a campaign, as a pastors or priest or a church member with religions solid background seeking to bring free education, free health services and infrastructure development to his people.
You can now conclude that pastors and priest that contested 2012 election are in actual fact no followers of Jesus at all. Because if Jesus refuse to get into politics, who else are these pastors and priest following by entering politics? I am afraid it is the intention of devil himself, if it is not that of Jesus Christ.