Can religion change a leader’s ways?

bishopsOver two hundred Roman Catholic bishops from across Africa have issued an ultimatum to corrupt Catholic political leaders on the continent to repent or quit. Without naming any specific politicians, they believed the continent and the church had been given a bad name. The region needs “saintly politicians who will clean the continent of corruption,” declared the bishops at the Vatican earlier today.Will this ultimatum have any impact? Do we underestimate the impact of faith on a leader’s behaviour?

33 Responses to “Can religion change a leader’s ways?”

  1. 1 steve
    October 23, 2009 at 20:30

    Here in the US, Religions are required to be non political or they lose their tax exempt status. There’s a saying about staying out of which is caesar’s.

    • 2 Robel
      October 26, 2009 at 08:24

      Steve has a good point from the bible where as per the new testament the kingdom of God and that of Caesar are different. I think the Catholic bishops are too ambitious on “politician saints”. Its rather subjective on the politician in question. I am from Ethiopia where things for the last 18 years have proved to be good since the separation of state and religion in the constitiution after centuries of a merged religion and state. The bishops should take care because religious doctrines and democracy are sometimes (if not most of the time) conflicting. Our leaders in Africa need to follow basic principles of democracy but without forgetting to question how they get to the power and their legitimacy.

  2. 3 Linda from Italy
    October 23, 2009 at 21:37

    Yes unfortunately, Blair “caught” God-bothering from G. W. Bush, and look what happened.

  3. 4 Kevin PE
    October 23, 2009 at 21:44

    As a non-practicing Catholic, or to be more accurate, a reluctant atheist, I would urge these bishops and the Church in general to firstly clean their own house and secondly, to be more specific. If they are to be credible they have to move away from wishy-washy broad statements and name names. I realize there is separation between Church and State and they walk a thin line when attempting to meddle in politics. Where the Church has devout followers, they can certainly sway the populace, the problem is most African leaders don’t give a hoot about the peoples sentiment. These days, being threatened with ex-communication just doesn’t have the same sting either.

  4. 5 vijay k pillai
    October 23, 2009 at 23:04

    Keep religion out of politics. Take cue from china and singapore. China rescued the collapse of wester banking system and IMF. singapore another third world country 3 decades ago now one of he richest in the world.Both keep religion out of politics i would add singapore a multiracial,mulreligious and multi linquistic nation can be a model for rest of the world how to make it citizens save for retirement and future finacial centre of asia in the making.

  5. 6 No Thanks
    October 24, 2009 at 00:44

    History shows us what happens when religion meddles in politics. It has also shown us that some leaders who have proclaimed their faith ad nauseam have time and again shown themselves to be immoral and corrupt.
    So, all things considered, I think the question is irrelevant.

  6. 7 Tan Boon Tee
    October 24, 2009 at 03:20

    In theory, politics and hence politicians ought to be independent of religious sentiments for the benefit and advancement of a nation, especially the multi-racial one.

    Unfortunately in practice, most political leaders (irrespective of the political systems of the nations) have been heavily influenced or guided by their beliefs and faiths. After all, they are put to govern the people of the said religion.

    So, how could the African bishops have any impact on the leaders? One would expect not even on their own kind, let alone those who embrace different denominations or faiths.

    By the way, do “saintly politicians” exist?

  7. 8 ben aloy
    October 24, 2009 at 03:46

    Catholic Church has atlast taken stand and acknowledged the need for good governance in African continent.
    The next obvious step woulld be naming and shaming that murderous Mugabe.

  8. 9 Ronald Almeida
    October 24, 2009 at 10:03

    Religion cannot change anything. And to think religion is not political is naive. I wouldn’t trust any leader who was religious, that goes for the pope too.

    • 10 Tom K in Mpls
      October 26, 2009 at 17:15

      In general, I agree. But your first sentence is obviously wrong. Religion is enormously powerful in personal lives and politics. And as a power, it changes much.

  9. 11 Dennis Junior
    October 24, 2009 at 15:51

    Will this ultimatum have any impact? [I hope that this church ultimatum will have an impact; But, I am waiting with baited breathe…]

    Do we underestimate the impact of faith on a leader’s behaviour? [Yes..]

    N.B.: An leaders’ behaviour is not only on the scale of what is his religious believes are…But, is those of his policies..

    ~Dennis Junior~

  10. 12 Franziska
    October 24, 2009 at 17:58

    I doubt that this will change anything. When you take a look at the American political system, where every politician and their mother is a supposedly devout Christian, the cases of political and personal misconduct are never ending. The most that will come out of the church’s demands is just what they recommended. They will repent. And then go off to their next shady business. Religion won’t change things, only the people will.

    October 24, 2009 at 21:44

    It is good to hear this from the clergy although we were formerly ruled by religions the world over which eventually became corrupt. The irony is, religion is a good tool for molding society though it has of late been abused by a sizable number. I would want to believe that religion has the capacity to be outspoken even against its own members instead of shielding them.
    As for curruption, I recall one bishop in Kenya who fought tooth and nail to be paid over one million shillings due to him on the basis of a contract for the services of ‘offering blessings’ to the city council of Nairobi. The man was breathing fire I tell you in the media and the courts. When it comes to other politics, they are overly pertisan and have shamelessly played into the hands of corrupt leadership. I hope this is not the abandoning of a sinking boat when another is on sight. Policy should be secular and I hope this represents the interests of all.

  12. 14 claudine
    October 25, 2009 at 06:13

    It is hard to believe that religion should change the greed or craving for power of an errant leader.

  13. 15 scmehta
    October 25, 2009 at 07:23

    Any leader may not be a conscientious human being. The hard, bad and sad fact is that most of the political leaders or politicians are corrupt; and many amongst them are criminals and ex-criminals. If religions could have their truthful way and say, or were always interpreted in the right and humane spirit, then the world would never have been in such a bad shape–morally and practically. But, now that a religion (the catholic) has dared to take a bold and ethical step to set an example before the whole world including those shameless/heartless leaders, it richly deserves our accolade and whole-hearted support. Not much is achieved or rectified voluntarily in any society; The malaise of political-corruption has to be tackled as the most dangerous of all the law & order problems being faced by the world societies; and religions being the most important guides and mentors of any society, they need to be on the forefront to set right the wrongs.

  14. 16 ruks
    October 25, 2009 at 09:01

    even in the bible religion and politics are two paralle lines. so, expecting religion to change a political leader’s way, expecially in affrica where corruption is government approved is imposible.

  15. 17 Jim Newman
    October 25, 2009 at 17:26

    Hello again
    Religions usually support those in power as a general rule.
    A notable exception was the jesuits in South America who took the side of the poor and defied the main church. I’m afraid one shouldn’t look to religion to bring about changes. It is in the main super conservative and against any change.

  16. 18 VictorK
    October 25, 2009 at 17:40

    ‘Ultimatum’? The leaders should turn protestant and tell these naive & impudent bishops, interfering in temporal matters, to shut the hell up. After all, how many divisions has the Pope?

    • 19 No Thanks
      October 26, 2009 at 03:09

      Considering what some bishops have been getting up tolately, one would think they would be a little more circumspect. After all, people who live in glass houses etc.

  17. 20 archibald
    October 25, 2009 at 18:37

    Religion has changed many leaders ways throughout history. Too bad that most of it has been for the worse. Religion and faith are too abstract to be applied to leadership without resulting in extremes, subjectivism and overt despotism. Outer space seems the best place for religion, reality is much more present and loaded with subtleties than antiquated ideals and fears can ever catch up with.

  18. 21 Ramon
    October 25, 2009 at 20:53

    The religious institutions have their own problems to solve, that alone makes them unfit to enforce or create a change in nobody’s mind. The political leaders of today are too busy finding ways too remain in power. They no longer respect the constitutions in their countries and use elections only when it serves their purpose. During the past ten years we have had a great number of elections and referendums and reelections plagued with corruptions allegations, fraud and claims of foul play by the parties that lost them.

    If those political leaders believe themselves to be above their own laws, what makes you think they will heed the call of any religious cleric or organization?
    That is not only foolish it’s naive.

  19. 22 John in Salem
    October 25, 2009 at 23:53

    If the religion is one that a leader has had from childhood I wouldn’t expect too much – by the time most people become adults they’ve already learned how to make compromises with their faith.
    Conversion to a new religion is something else, however – think Emporor Constantine, whose conversion to Christianity ushered in the Dark Ages, or the Indian warlord king Ashoka whose embrace of Buddhism led him to renounce violence.

  20. 23 Pete Hodge
    October 26, 2009 at 03:21

    Yes, there is a good chance that religion, specially biblical Christianity could have a major impact on the life of a national leader. Religion though, is often a cover for illegal or immoral actions. Blair claimed to convert to the Catholic religion. It hasn’t made him any better. But then, why should we expect a religion that has little idea of the the message of the Bible to have an impact on the lives of people.
    As for Islam, is there a single Muslim country that is peaceful? I think not.

  21. 24 Kevin PE
    October 26, 2009 at 09:55

    On a side note, most posts point to a generally corrupt or at least untrustworthy person in the form of a politician. Why, pray, do we then all dutifully stand in line every 4 years or so. Flag waving, cheering fools we are.

  22. 25 Sade
    October 26, 2009 at 11:02

    Is this funny or what? The Church should clean its own house before telling others to clean theirs.

  23. 26 patti in cape coral
    October 26, 2009 at 12:51

    I guess it would depend on how seriously the leader takes his religion. I think if they took it seriously they wouldn’t need to be admonished by the church in the first place, so I doubt it would make a difference.

  24. 27 Ibrahim in UK
    October 26, 2009 at 13:22

    Religion can affect a person regardless of his rank.
    In corrupt countries, the direction of the nation is almost entirely dependent on the leader and the rich elite who benefit each other with money and power. Rarely do leaders make decisions while keeping their ultimate accountability to God in mind. Religion is used mostly as a tool to gain support and popularity, to unite the people and lend legitimacy to rule. The Vatican is effectively pressuring these leaders to steer their nations in certain directions, or lose the support of the Vatican and with it the Christian legitimacy of their rule.
    This is the Vatican using political persuasion, rather than religion, to change a leaders’ way.

  25. 28 Dennis Junior
    October 26, 2009 at 14:32

    If the leader in the non-name country doesn’t reform his way, in the Church’s eyes; Then the Church doesn’t have the right to demand his/her ouster from office…Since, it is the right of the citizens in the country..

    =Dennis Junior=

  26. 29 Tom K in Mpls
    October 26, 2009 at 16:06

    This is just a bad play for power by the church. It has happened before, it will happen again.

    October 26, 2009 at 16:23

    Leadership does not absolve one from partnership with his or her fellow citizens. I tend to think that most leaders see themselves like that ‘other’ until they finally fall into disgrace.
    It is the high time that leaders saw themselves as social partners in progress with their own citizens and reaching out for the good all. It is time too for leaders to listen to the outer voices and shape the national outlook for the better.
    Finally all of us have a definite life span which should be used like a rare opportunity with wider benefits rather than me me and my supporters.

  28. 31 margaret
    October 26, 2009 at 18:55

    Absolutely religion affects leaders, and often not in a good way that I can see from current global politics and from ample historical precedent, no matter what your religion might be. It all seems to be about power and control. The Roman Catholic Church has rather a lot of blood on its hands to be issuing ultimatums to anyone about appropriate behavior. I would prefer that people would just stick to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    margaret USA

  29. October 26, 2009 at 19:03

    Freedom of religion shouldn’t be allowed to become freedom from religion … more on my site for you perusal.

  30. 33 NSC London
    October 27, 2009 at 15:11

    ^Yes, actually it should. I’d rather not have to listen to the horrifying Islamic calls to prayer in my neighbourhood in London, nor should students in the US be subjected to forced Christian prayer in public schools.

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