Uganda’s President Museveni said today that tolerance was a biblical imperative and that Christians should not “have one minute of time wasted” by those promoting prejudice.
Speaking to almost 400 bishops and other guests at the All Africa Bishops Conference in Entebbe this morning, President Museveni used the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan to highlight the need to overcome difference and pursue peace and healing.
Drawing on Ugandan religious history, President Museveni explained it took only ten years after the first convert to Christianity in Uganda before Catholics and Protestants were fighting and killing each other.
“I don’t’ know where they heard God wanted them to fight and kill each other,” he said. “A civil war between those calling themselves Catholics and those calling themselves Protestants! Then there was another war between the two of them and Muslims. They were all fighting on behalf of God, they said.”
He recounted the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate that prejudice should not get in the way of peace and helping other human beings. In this New Testament story it is a traditional enemy of the Israelites, a Samaritan, who aids an injured Israelite when members of the Jewish religious elite fail to do so.
“I am always looking for the good Samaritan,” he said. “Jesus says you shall know them by their fruits. You shall know them by their actions. Not by their words, not by their addresses, not by their titles, but by their works, by their deeds, by the products of their works.”
The President said those of all denominations or faiths needed to recognise one another’s right to exist: “If you are a Muslim, so what? I am a Christian. OK, so what’s your problem? You are what you are, but I am what I am. We’re different…I’m here by the permission of God. You must accept me the way I am whether you want it or not.”
He added that anyone promoting intolerance should not “waste one of our minutes with this…We are all created in the image of god, so you are made in the image of god. I don’t know whether God is black or white or Chinese, but we are created in his image—that’s what the bible says.”
He concluded his well-received speech by officially opening the CAPA -run conference for bishops of the Anglican Communion in Africa that is running until Sunday 29 August at the Imperial Beach Hotel, Entebbe. Aims for this conference include mobilising the bishops to tackle the obstacles that continue to keep the continent in conflict, poverty, corruption, poor leadership and disease.
Notes to Editor
1. CAPA is the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa http://www.capa-hq.org/
2. The 2nd All Africa Bishops Conference (AABC) from the 23rd – 29th August 2010 is at the Imperial Resort Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda. The conference brings together Bishops from 400 dioceses in Burundi, Central Africa, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Egypt and Uganda.
3. The Anglican Communion Office serves the Anglican Communion, comprising around 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 160 countries. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/
4. Media queries about the Anglican Communion relating to this conference should contact Mr Jan Butter on +256(0)700882038 or firstname.lastname@example.org