‘Preach the gospel, not politics’, Bor churches told
A government official in Bor town of Jonglei State has urged the Christian community in the state to desist from politics in the churches, warning that those found in defiance will be arrested.
The remark comes barely a week after a wrangle over a leadership position among the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) bishops in the state capital, Bor.
“We did not ban churches. As a government, we only want the Bible to be preached in the churches, not politics because there is tension among the bishops,” Duom Kuol Ager, the acting state Secretary-General, told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday.
He added, “As we speak, churches are operational but only Bible services are allowed. All other activities like greetings, announcements, and meetings will be stopped until the tension is resolved. “
The government official warned that those found in defiance of the order will be punished.
James Deng, an ECSS bishop in Bor, welcomed the government decision.
“As Makuac Diocese, we welcome it. But no Sunday service can be run without announcements and administrative meetings. So, we will continue to dialogue with the government so that some of the restrictions are lifted,” he said.
Bishop Deng called for calm and unity among the Christian community in Jonglei, saying the ongoing leadership wrangle will be resolved administratively.
Philip Dau, a member of St. Andrew Cathedral, said he is disappointed in his church leaders for dividing Christians along ethnic lines for their ‘selfish gains’.
“There are three groups---those following Bishop Akurdit, Panchol, and Justin Badi. For me, I stopped attending services. If they are men of God, they should stop this,” he said.
For his part, Bol Deng, a civil society activist in Bor, condemned the intensifying divisions among ECSS members in Bor.
The activist urged the national government to intervene.
“Youth constitute a big percent of followers. And already these divisions have taken ethnic lines. So, the government must use force to impose the orders of Justin Badi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Major Majak Daniel Tuor, the state police spokesperson, said they are working with the church leaders to maintain order during the Sunday church services.