Eight years after President Frederick Chiluba officially declared Zambia a "Christian nation," the declaration is largely meaningless, according to church leaders. Prominent church officials say the declaration has become increasingly "hollow" in the face of Zambia's mounting social, political, and economic problems, including widespread corruption (CT, March 2, 1998, p. 76).Archbishop John Mambo, head of the 1.5 million-member Church of God in the southern African nation, says there has been a rise in "immorality and corruption in our country, which puts a question mark on our being called a Christian nation.""There is very little to show that we are a Christian nation with so much wrong-doing, both in private and public life. There is nothing to distinguish us from secular nations," Mambo says.Joe Komakoma, a priest and executive secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, says leaders have amassed wealth in dubious ways, leaving ordinary people neglected."Lust for money, power, and social privileges has been made to look like a virtue," Komakoma says. "This has resulted in the worsening of social indicators, high poverty levels, widening of the gap between the rich and the poor, endemic corruption, and a sharp rise in crime."Almost nothing in the public life of many Zambians indicates that the country has been declared Christian, Evangelical Fellowship national director Thomas Lumba said at a celebration of the declaration's eighth anniversary.Celebrations of the declaration's anniversary have long been fraught with controversy. Leaders of the opposition political parties were not invited to the latest celebrations. The events attracted only a small following—only 10,000 of an expected 500,000. Lieutenant General Christon Tembo, Zambia's vice president, admitted that so far the declaration has remained largely theoretical. He said church leaders would meet soon with government officials to make specific plans for the nation to follow. "We should have a Christian orientation in all fields at all levels, if we are to truly turn Zambia into a Christian nation," he told one celebration gathering.Dean Mungomba, vice chairman of an alliance of seven opposition political parties, denounced the celebrations as deceitful, treacherous, and one-party events."They [government officials] cannot invite any opposition leaders because they know the crimes they have committed against the citizens of this country in the name of Christ," Mungomba said. "We can't deal with chaps who plundered the wealth of this nation in the name of God. They do not qualify to declare this country a Christian nation."About 4.6 million of Zambia's 10 million people are Christians.

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