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The awkward dance between the government and the church: Who’s leading? Part II


Every feature in the scriptural definition and description of the Church implies its essential and permanent distinctness from the kingdoms of this world. Even if the whole community were members of the Church, and of one and the same Church, this could be regarded only as an accidental condition of things that could not be expected to last for any length of time, and if it should last, would afford no warrant for disregarding or setting aside Christ’s arrangements.


Although the Church and the commonwealth consist of the same persons, it would still, if Christ’s arrangements as set forth in Scripture were to be at all regarded, be by a different constitution and laws. That men held their places in the one or in the other, whether as office-bearers or as members, and they would still have in these two different capacities different duties to discharge, and a different standard to follow.


Nothing indicates that it was Christ’s intention that the constitution and arrangements of His Church should be altered when His vision should gain an ascendency in a nation. Everything indicates the reverse. He is to be with His church, and His church is to be with Him; that is, subject to His control, obedient to His direction, submissive to His will, faithful in discharging the duties He has imposed upon it, until the end of the world.


A mere change in the external condition of the Church, arising from the proceedings of civil rulers professing to discharge a scriptural duty, is a fundamentally different thing from an alteration in any of those matters which manifestly constitute essential features of the Church as a distinct society, of the arrangements He made for the administration of its government, and the regulation of its affairs.


The classes and qualifications of office-bearers, the nature and limits of their authority and functions, the qualifications and privileges of ordinary members, and the superintendence to be exercised over them by the office-bearers, are manifestly among the essentialia of a distinct organized society, and cannot be materially changed without changing its constitution and character. There is no room for the State to maneuver or attempt under any cloak to interfere.


Christ has settled these points for His church in His word; while in regard to civil society nations are left free to settle most of these matters according to their own judgment and discretion; and from the nature of the case, there are many of them which cannot be settled in civil society in the way in which Christ has settled them in His church.


This is an irrefutable fact. On such grounds as these, it can be easily shown that the distinctness and diversity between the Church, as settled by Christ, and the kingdoms of this world, as settled by man, must be permanently maintained; and that their complete organization, as distinct societies, cannot be infringed upon without sin or chaos on the part of those concerned in it, without interfering with arrangements which Christ appointed and intended to continue till His second coming.


Dare I say, it is not the business of the State what happens in the Church, but it's the business of the Church what happens in the State. The Church willingly subjects itself to the ordinances of the State; but this volitional submission is not to be interpreted to mean that the Church is subservient to the State. The Church is not answerable to the State but to the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is why you have situations of civil disobedience, where the State has passed laws that are contrary to Christ's constitution for His Church. In such instances, the Church has a right, and indeed an obligation, to disregard the State. The State should not and cannot successfully oppress or suppress the Church through the imposition of laws or statutes it knows very well violate the stance of the Church.


It has also been maintained that the distinctness of the State and the Church, viewed as including the origin and nature of the differences between them which it implies, affords a good ground for the inference that the two societies, and the authorities who represent and regulate them, are, and ought to be, wholly independent of each other, with respect to any jurisdiction or authoritative control of the one over the other; that it precludes the assumption or exercise of any right on the part of one to interfere authoritatively in the regulation of the affairs of the other.


I believe that this conclusion is well founded; that it follows fairly from the premises; and that it can be conclusively established by a survey of all the materials bearing upon the settlement of the question. This is the branch of the general subject that bears most immediately upon the position the "free" Church has been led to occupy, and the testimony she has been called upon to bear.


It is on this topic that the controversies which have been long carried on inter imperium et sacerdotium [between the crown and the priesthood], or as to the relation that ought to subsist between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, have almost wholly turned, until in our own day prominence has been given to the principle of Voluntarism, or of the entire separation of Church and State, a principle which only cuts the knot, and certainly does not untie it.


It is not difficult to perceive how it is that the differences between the Church and the State, which constitute them two distinct societies, should lay a foundation for their entire independence of each other in respect to jurisdiction or authoritative control, while they give no countenance to the doctrine of the necessity of their entire separation, or of the unlawfulness or impracticability of a friendly combination between them for mutual aid and assistance.


That two societies which must consistently come into contact with each other, and whose leading ends and objects, though different, have yet no discordance or opposition, should combine more or less for mutual co-operation and assistance, and of course should make arrangements with each other with this view, is a position which has every antecedent probability and presumption in its favor. The burden of proof lies wholly upon those who deny it.


The fact of the matter is the two cannot ignore each other, even if they wanted to. I've already stated that they share the same fundamental constituents – people, who are in both at the same time. The hot potato is not whether co-existence or a symbiotic relationship is possible. The hot potato is about who should influence whom, and to what extent. Bluntly put, it's a power struggle. Both have an obligation to one another.


And then it can, I think, be proved that an obligation attaches to the State and to civil rulers in their official capacity, to aim at the promotion of the interests of the Church and its welfare. The appropriate result of this obligation, where both parties rightly understand their respective duties, and where special circumstances in the condition of the community do not preclude it, is the formation of a friendly relationship between them.


On the other hand, the notion that of two naturally and originally distinct societies, the one should be entitled to exercise jurisdiction or authoritative control over the other, has every probability or presumption against it. It does not work and indeed cannot work.

The burden of proof lies wholly upon those who assert it. That proof will have to demonstrate that subordination of the one to the other, which is implied in the exercise of jurisdiction, can be legitimately based only either upon the natural intrinsic relation of the two societies to each other, or upon the interposed authority of a common superior.


The natural and original distinctness of the two societies would, upon general principles, exclude the first of these possible grounds of superiority and subordination; and there is a great deal in the special features of the two societies in question, the State and the Church, to confirm the exclusion, and nothing whatever to invalidate it.

If it is alleged, as it has been, that God, the common superior, has invested the one with a right to exercise authoritative control over the other, this of course is a position which must be fairly met and discussed by an investigation of all the materials which legitimately bear upon it.


So far as we can collect the will of God upon this subject from the more general properties and qualities of the two societies as ascertained either from reason or revelation, there is certainly nothing whatever to countenance the idea of the dependence of the one upon the other, or of the subordination of the one to the other, but, on the contrary, much to establish the doctrine of their entire mutual independence in respect to jurisdiction, and to prove the unwarranted and unlawfulness of the one usurping any authority over the other.


The very same result is brought out by an examination of the more specific positions alleged to be sanctioned by Scripture, and to bear more directly upon this particular subject. From the nature of the case there are just three theories that can be maintained upon this subject: First, that of those who assert the superiority in point of jurisdiction of the Church over the State; the right of the ecclesiastical rulers to exercise authoritative control in civil matters.

This is the doctrine of the Church of Rome, and has been maintained more or less fully and openly by most of her leading authorities. Indeed the Vatican is a full State run by the Church with the Pontiff playing the role of head of State. Secondly, that of those who assert the superiority of the State over the Church, or the right of the civil rulers to exercise jurisdiction in ecclesiastical affairs.


This has usually been known as Erastianism, though it is often spoken of by some writers under the designation Byzantinism, a term derived from the degrading subjection to the civil power to which the Patriarchs of Constantinople were reduced during the middle ages, while their rivals the Bishops of Rome attained not only to independence, but to supremacy.


Thirdly, that of those who deny the Popish and the Erastian theories, and maintain that the Church and the State are two co-equal independent powers, each supreme in its own distinct province, and neither having any authoritative control over the other. This is the doctrine taught in the word of God and in the Westminster Standards, though it can scarcely be said to have any distinct compendious historical designation in theological literature.

As the alleged absurdity and danger of an imperium in imperio [a state within a state], and the alleged necessity of some one power or authority that shall superintend and control everything in a community, is the common basis of the two leading erroneous theories upon the subject of the relation between the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities, it may be proper to make some observations upon it.


The direct disproof of it as an argument for the superiority of the one, and the subordination of the other, is of course to be found in the proof that the Church and the State are two distinct independent societies, each having a distinct government of its own, self-sufficient and authoritative in its own domain, and with reference to its own functions and objects.

If this can be proved, then no valid argument against the application of the doctrine can be derived from mere inconveniences or embarrassments that may occasionally arise, especially if it can be further proved, as it can, that collision and embarrassment may be easily avoided by settling the limits of the respective jurisdictions or spheres of the two powers. And there is no such great difficulty in doing this as is commonly believed. Our Savior has enjoined His followers to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God’s.


This implies that there are some things which belong to the domain and jurisdiction of Caesar, or the civil authority, which are subject to his jurisdiction, with respect to which he has rightful authority, and is ordinarily to be obeyed; reserving, of course, the great principle which is of universal application, namely, that we must obey God rather than man.

It implies also, that there are some things which are God’s, in such a sense not to belong to Caesar at all; not to belong to his domain, or to be subject to the authority of the civil authority. There is no great difficulty in settling what these things are, respectively. Caesar’s things are the persons and the property of men, and God’s things are the conscience of men and the Church of Christ.


The civil authority has rightful jurisdiction over the persons and the property of men, because the word of God sanctions his right to the use of the sword (Romans 13:4), and because jurisdiction in these matters is evidently indispensable to the execution of the functions of his office.

The attainment of the great end of civil government, namely, the promotion of the good social order and conscience, for God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men. The civil authority has no jurisdiction over the Church of Christ, because Christ alone is its King and Head, and because by His own authority in His word, He has made full provision for its government – for the administration of its affairs, through other parties, without vesting any control over it in the civil authorities.


The civil authority, I believe, is bound, in the exercise of his proper authority, in his own domain, to aim at the promotion of free worship and the welfare of the Church; but though this obligation brings religion and the Church within the scope of his care, it does not bring them within the sphere of his jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not entitle him to deal with them in a manner inconsistent with, or unauthorized by their proper nature or their prescribed constitution.

The civil authority is also entitled to exercise a certain superintendence and control in religious and ecclesiastical matters, limited to the object of promoting the attainment, and preventing the frustration of the great end of his office, the peace and good order of the community.


But this consideration, though authorizing him to restrain and punish whatever or whosoever, under pretence of conscience or of ecclesiastical authority, interferes with the interests he is bound to guard. It does not invest him with legitimate authority in matters of religion, or the affairs of the Church, or enable him to impose upon any a valid obligation to render to him obedience in these things.

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021

MELANIE WALKER

The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

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