With the title, “Zimbabwe: Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor Hails Leadership,” the Zimbabwe Herald recently reported that Ted Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said the following:
“We would like to thank the Government of Zimbabwe for granting the nation freedom of worship. The Constitution allows for that and anyone is free to worship in his or her own way,” he said.
Pastor Wilson urged the gathering to respect and submit to the leadership of the country as required by the word of God.
“Let us pray for the leadership of this country. The Bible requires us to do so. We should respect and submit to the leadership of this country because all leaders are appointed by God,” said Pastor Wilson.
I myself am a practising Seventh Day Adventist [like Sandra Ndebele!] and have read my Bible every Sabbath [hopefully] since I was literate . The Bible talks about praying for one’s enemies – but in the context of their demise. It also talks about loving your neighbour – more like if Chipangano is next door, show them you are not afraid of admonishing them.
But to pray for Mugabe – would be to ask God to make this dictator see wisdom, admit he is a sinner, call him to account for his crimes, confess and get him baptised. There is no way my Bible talks about elongating the rule of murderous leaders. People like Naboth and Soul had one destiny – to die violently. Once again,Tsvangirayi has got it all wrong. Until Mugabe and his cronies admit and confess to Gukurahundi, 2000 farm murders and June 2008 atrocities, I urge my local [SDA] Union, the African [SDA] conference and the World Adventist General Conference, our TV channels Hope TV and Three Angels Message to put up sermons every week to condemn Mugabe-type dictatorships.
There is a troubling history of Adventist leaders telling church members to obey authoritarian, even genocidal, national leaders as long as the church is tolerated. In May of 2011, Adventist leaders caught the media’s attention for praising Mugabe for his persecution of homosexuals, among other issues.
Among many organizations that report on the inhumanity inflicted by the leadership of Zimbabwe, Human Rights Watch has issued many reports on the crimes of Zimbabwe leadership including “forced labor, child labor, extrajudicial killings, beatings, smuggling, and corruption. There has been no accountability for these abuses.” Of course there are some human rights activists in Zimbabwe braving violence to shed light on these abuses in critique of the regime. Ted Wilson did not speak in support of them—althougt most governments around the world support their humanitarian work. Instead, Ted Wilson told everyone to obey Mugabe.
Early this year, Nat Hentoff, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute wrote:
Our planet abounds in horrific dictators, most of whom eventually are erased from power by their suffering, mutinous subjects. But one of them — Robert Mugabe — continues his despotic reign as president of Zimbabwe.
This land, once “the breadbasket of Africa,” is now a place where hardly anyone feels safe.
In Peter Godwin’s book, “The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe” (Little, Brown and Co., 2011), he distills this hell during three decades of President Mugabe’s “smart genocide”: “There’s no need to directly kill hundreds of thousands, if you can select and kill the right few thousand… It is as if he has taken an entire nation hostage, using them as human shields.”
. . . In one of my many ineffective columns about Mugabe’s terror (“Mugabe’s Victims, Mostly Black,” Village Voice, May 6, 2003), I quote his self-appraisal from March 21, 2003:
“I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times Hitler, that is what we stand for.”
So why is Ted Wilson publicly supporting this leader?