The dictatorship of the church (2023)

In Zimbabwe, the most powerful dictatorship is not the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. Despite the party’s 40 year history of ruthlessly cracking down on opposition parties, sowing fear into the minds of the country’s political aspirants, despite the party’s overseeing of catastrophic policies such as the failed land reform, and despite the precarious position of the social landscape of the country today, neither former president Robert Mugabe, nor the current president Emmerson Mnangagwa, nor any of their associates pose as significant an existential threat to Zimbabweans as the most influential dictatorship at play in the country: the church.

The church has frightening, near despotic authority which it uses to wield the balance of human rights within its palms. It wields authority from enormously influential megachurches like those of Walter Magaya and Emmanuel Makandiwa, to the smaller startup churches that operate from the depths of the highest-density suburbs of the metropolitan provinces of Bulawayo and Harare. Modern day totalitarian regimes brandish the power of the military over their subjects. In the same way, the church wields the threat of eternal damnation against those who fail to follow its commands. With the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, for example, Emmanuel Makandiwa vocally declared that the vaccine was the biblical “mark of the beast.” In line with the promises of the book of Revelations, he declared that receiving it would damn one to eternal punishment.

Additionally, in just the same way that dictators stifle discourse through the control of the media, the church suppresses change by controlling the political landscape and making themselves indispensable stakeholders in electoral periods. The impact of this is enormous: since independence, there has been no meaningful political discourse on human rights questions. These questions include same-sex marriage and the right to access abortions as well as other reproductive health services. The church’s role in this situation has been to lead an onslaught of attacks on any institution, political or not, that dares to bring such questions for public consideration. But importantly, only through such consideration can policy substantively change. When people enter into conversation, they gain the opportunity to find middle grounds for their seemingly irreconcilable positions. Such middle-grounds may be the difference between life and death for many disadvantaged groups in Zimbabwe and across the world at large. The influence of the church impedes any attempt at locating this middle ground.

(Video) Dictatorship in the Church

Additionally, because the church influences so many Zimbabweans, political actors do not dare oppose the church’s declarations. They fear being condemned and losing the support of their electorate. The church rarely faces criticism for its positions. It is not held accountable for the sentiments its leaders express by virtue of the veil of righteousness protecting it.

Furthermore, and uniquely so, the church serves the function of propping up the ZANU-PF party. The ZANU-PF mainly holds conservative ideals. These ideals align with those of the traditionalist Zimbabwean church. In short, the church in Zimbabwe stands as a hurdle to the crucial regime change necessary to bring the country to success. With a crucial election slated for the coming months, this hurdle looms more threatening than at any other time in the country’s history.

The impact of the church’s dictatorship on humans is immeasurable. Queer people, for example, are enormously vulnerable to violence and othering from their communities. They are also particularly vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and infections due to the absence of healthcare for them. The church meets the attempts of organizations such as the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe to push for protection with cries that often devolve into scapegoating. These cries from the church reference moral decadence, a supposed decline in family values, and in the worst of cases, mental illness.

(Video) The Dictator (2012) - The Vegan Jihad Scene (6/10) | Movieclips

Similarly, the church meets civil society’s attempts at codifying and protecting sexual and reproductive rights with vehement disapproval. In 2021, for example, 22 civil society organizations petitioned Parliament to lower the consent age for accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Critics of the petition described it as “deeply antithetical to the public morality of Zimbabwe” that is grounded in “good old cultural and Christian values.”

Reporting on its consultations with religious leaders, a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee tasked with considering this petition described Christianity as “the solution” to the problem posed by the petition. This Committee viewed the petition as a gateway to issues such as “child exploitation … rights without responsibility … and spiritual bondages.” The petition disappeared into the annals of parliamentary bureaucracy. A year later, the Constitutional Court unanimously voted to increase the age of consent to 18.

A more horrifying instance of this unholy alliance between the church and the state in Zimbabwe is a recently unearthed money laundering scheme that has occurred under the watchful eye of the government. Under the stewardship of self-proclaimed Prophet Uebert Angel, the Ambassador-at-Large for the Government of Zimbabwe, millions of dollars were laundered by the Zimbabwean government. Here, as revealed by Al Jazeera in a four-part docuseries, Ambassador Angel served as a middleman for the government, facilitating the laundering of millions of dollars and the smuggling of scores of refined gold bars to the United Arab Emirates. He did this using his plenipotentiary ambassadorial status to vault through loopholes in the government’s security systems.

(Video) 7-30-22 Yuval Harari: The Oracle for the Digital Dictatorship [Prophecy Update]

Importantly, Prophet Angel was appointed in 2021 as part of a frenetic series of ambassadorial appointments. President Mnangagwa handed out these appointments to specifically high-profile church leaders known for their glamorous lifestyle and their preaching of the prosperity gospel. Through these appointments, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government earned itself a permanent stamp of approval from the church and access to a multi-million member base of voting Christians in the country. Mnangagwa’s gained access to freedom from accountability arising from the power of the endorsements by “men-of-God,” one of whom’s prophetic realm includes predicting English Premier League (EPL) football scores and guessing the color of congregants’ undergarments.

In exchange, Prophet Angel has earned himself a decently large sum of money. He has also earned the same freedom from critique and accountability as Zimbabwe’s government. To date, there is no evidence of Angel ever having faced any consequences for his action. The most popular response is simple: the majority of the Christian community chooses either to defend him or to turn a blind eye to his sins. The Christian community’s response to Prophet Angel’s actions, and to the role of the church in abortion and LGBTQ discourse is predictable. The community also responds simply to similar instances when the church acts as a dialogical actor and absolves itself of accountability and critique

Amidst all this, it is easy to denounce the church as a failed actor. However, the church’s political presence has not been exclusively negative. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, for example, was the first organization to formally acknowledge Gukurahundi, a genocide that happened between 1982 and 1987 and killed thousands of Ndebele people. The Commission did this through a detailed report documenting what it termed as disturbances in the western regions of the country. Doing so sparked essential conversations about accountability and culpability over this forgotten genocide in Zimbabwe.

(Video) Is Your CHURCH Actually a CULT? Cult Practices Exposed

Similarly, the Zimbabwe Bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission has been involved in data collection that is sparking discourse about violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. In doing so, the Commission is challenging Zimbabweans to think more critically about what constructive politics can look like in the country. Such work is hugely instrumental in driving social justice work forward in the country. What uniquely identifies the church’s involvement in both of these issues, however, is that neither touches on matters of Christian dogma. Instead, the Commission responds to general questions about the future of both God and Zimbabwe’s people in ways that make it easy for the church to enter into conversation with a critical and informed lens.

The conclusion from this is simple: if Zimbabwe is to shift into more progressive, dialogical politics, the church’s role must change with it. It is unlikely that the church will ever be a wholly apolitical actor in any country. However, the political integration of the church into the politics of Zimbabwe must be a full one. It must be led by the enhanced accountability of Zimbabwean religious leaders. In the same way that other political actors are taken to task over their opinions, the church must be held accountable for its rhetoric in the political space.

A growing population has, thus far, been involved in driving this shift. Social media has taken on a central role in this. For example, social media platforms such as Twitter thoroughly criticized megachurch pastor Emmanuel Makandiwa for his sentiments regarding vaccinations. This and other factors led him to backtrack on his expressed views on inoculation. However, social media is not as available in rural areas. There, the influence of the religion is stronger than elsewhere in the country. Therefore investments must be made in educating people about the roles of the church and the confines of its authority. This will be instrumental in giving people the courage to cut against the very rough grain of religious dogma. Presently, few such educational opportunities exist. To spark this much-needed change, it will be useful to have incentivizing opportunities for dialogue in religious sects.

(Video) The Dictatorship of Noise

More than anything else, the people for whom and through whom the church exists must drive any shift in the church’s role. The people of Tunisia stripped President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of his authority during the Jasmine Revolution of January 2011. The women of Iran continue to tear at the walls that surround the extremist Islamic Republic. In just the same way, the people of Zimbabwe have the power to disrobe the church of the veil of righteousness that protects it from criticism and accountability.

In anticipation of the upcoming election, the critical issues emerging necessitate this excoriation even more. This will open up political spaces for Zimbabweans to consider a wider pool of contentious issues when they take to the polls in a few months. Above all, the people of Zimbabwe must start viewing the church for what it is: an institution, just like any other, with vested interests in the country’s affairs. As with any other institution, we must begin to challenge, question, and criticize the church for its own good and for the good of the people of Zimbabwe.


What political power did the church have? ›

Whereas churches today are primarily religious institutions, the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages held tremendous political power. In some cases, Church authorities (notably the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church) held more power than kings or queens. The Church had the power to tax, and its laws had to be obeyed.

What is the definition of a dictatorship? ›

dictatorship, form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations.

What are the 3 types of church? ›

Sure, there are thousands of denominations, hundreds of theologies, and dozens of size cultures. But in the end, most congregations self-select into one of three categories. There are memorial churches, maintenance churches, and movement churches.

What is dictatorship government? ›

A dictatorship is a form of government controlled by a dictator. Politics in a dictatorship are controlled by the dictator and they are facilitated through an inner circle of elites that includes advisers, generals, and other high-ranking officials.

Who has authority over the church? ›

There is only one head of the church, Jesus Christ. The true picture in the New Testament is not that of a congregation under the authority of the preacher, but of both preacher and congregation under the authority of God's written Word.

Why did the church have so much power? ›

The Church owned a great deal of wealth and land. It became the most important unifying and stabilizing force in western Europe during the Middle Ages. The power vacuum left by the Roman Empire was filled by the Catholic Church. The church was the center of medieval life in western Europe.

What are 4 characteristics of dictatorship? ›

Dictatorships are often characterised by some of the following: suspension of elections and civil liberties; proclamation of a state of emergency; rule by decree; repression of political opponents; not abiding by the procedures of the rule of law; and the existence of a cult of personality centered on the leader.

What are the causes of dictatorship? ›

The common cause of dictators rising to power is economic crises in nations. Throughout world history, dictators have tended to rise in nations suffering terrible economic crises. When economies enter recessions or depressions, people lose their jobs and much of their income, and hope usually disappears.

What are the two types of dictatorships explain? ›

1. A monarchic dictatorship is an autocracy in which the executive comes to and maintains power on the basis of family and kin networks. 2. A military dictatorship is an autocracy in which the executive relies on the armed forces to come to and stay in power.

What are the four rules of the Church? ›

You shall confess your sins at least once a year. You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season. You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

What is the Church suffering? ›

The Church Suffering, or the Church Expectant, consists of the souls in Purgatory. This is the Church of all the faithful departed who are saved but are still being purified in purgatorial suffering. They cannot see God, but the Holy Spirit is in them. Being made ready for Heaven, they will never again sin.

What are the 4 principles of the Church? ›

Recent papal teaching has identified four major principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity, the common good, and solidarity.

What rules are known as a dictatorship? ›

When a person governs or rules a region by taking all the decisions by himself and not consulting anyone, it is called a dictatorship. The person who leads in a dictatorship is known as a dictator.

What is an example of a dictatorship? ›

Nazi Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin are the leading examples of modern totalitarian dictatorships.

Who are the present day dictators? ›

Qatar – Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani. Russia – Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. Rwanda – Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. Saudi Arabia – King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia.

Who is the highest power in the church? ›

Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, the visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful, and as pastor of the entire Catholic Church, has full, supreme, and universal power over the ...

What does the Bible say about authority in the church? ›

Although the heart of leadership according to scripture is servanthood (Mark 10:42-45), the Bible also teaches that legitimate leaders have authority, in the sense of a right to direct others. This authority comes from God and is delegated to leaders for the good of the church.

Who is the highest authority in the church? ›

As bishop of Rome the pope is the patriarch of the Latin Church, the largest of the Catholic Church's 24 autonomous (sui iuris) churches. He is also head of the college of bishops which governs the universal church.

When did church lose power? ›

By the 1300s, the Church was beginning to lose some of its moral and religious standing. Many Catholics, including clergy, criticized the corruption and abuses in the Church. They challenged the authority of the pope, questioned Church teachings, and started to develop new forms of Christian faith.

What year did the church lose power? ›

On July 18, 1536, the English Parliament passed the law titled “An Act Extinguishing the authority of the bishop of Rome” (28 Hen. 8 c. 10). This was in fact one of a series of laws which had been passed during the previous four years, severing England from the pope and the Roman Catholic Church.

Why did God want a church? ›

To Establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth. One of the most important reasons God established a church is that it is the kingdom of God here on the earth (see D&C 65).

What are the personality traits of a dictator? ›

A domineering dictator likes to be more authoritarian than democratic and doesn't see anything wrong with having or using their power over other people. They would much rather be the one giving orders.

What are 3 dictators? ›

The Three Dictators: Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler.

What is 1 feature of a dictatorship? ›

In a dictatorship the government tightly controls all aspects of the state and will often ban or tightly control groups and meetings. A dictatorship completely disregards the rights of individual citizens. The government and state will try to control all citizens through laws, police, spying and force.

How does dictatorship stay in power? ›

Still, most shared certain features. In short, most dictators maintained power by repressing any opposition, controlling all communications, punishing critics, (often) imposing an ideology, attacking the ideal of pluralist democracy, and blocking most cross-border flows of people and information.

Which type of leadership is closest to a dictatorships? ›

The first type of leadership is authoritarian, or dictator leadership. An authoritarian leader rules with total power. This style offers no opportunity for participant input; the leader makes all the decisions, critical knowledge is kept to themselves and they lay down the law.

Is democracy a dictatorship? ›

Democracies can be either parliamentary, semi-presidential, or presidential and dictatorships can be civilian, military, or royal. Many countries which are seen as otherwise democratic are dictatorships because there has yet to be an alternation in power since their incumbent government has never lost an election.

What is a dictatorship often the opposite of? ›

So, a dictatorship is a government controlled by the person or people in charge. This is almost the exact opposite of a democracy. A democracy is a form of government where the rules are made by the people.

What do Baptists not do? ›

Baptists do not believe that a loving God condemns anyone for a sin they did not commit. Baptists do not view baptism as a remedy for original sin. Baptists do not baptize infants. Baptists practice baptism by totally immersing persons in water, rather than by sprinkling, pouring, or anointing persons with water.

Why can't Baptists dance? ›

Various Christian groups believe that dancing is either inherently sinful or that certain forms of dancing could lead to sinful thoughts or activities, and thus proscribe it either in general or during religious services, particularly in the Anabaptist (chiefly Conservative Anabaptist and Old Order Anabaptist ...

What are the 5 church laws? ›

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997) lists five: to attend Mass on Sundays and Feasts of Obligation; to go to confession (see Penance) at least once a year; to receive Communion during the Easter season; to keep holy the Feasts of Obligation; and to observe the days of fasting and abstinence.

Who will go to Purgatory? ›

The Catholic Church holds that "all who die in God's grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified" undergo a process of purification, which the church calls purgatory, "so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven".

Where is God when we suffer? ›

When we are suffering, God is right beside us. Nothing can separate us from His love. He wants to show us His love through His church, and give us a purpose through His Word!

What do Christians do when they are suffering? ›

Most Christians believe that there are two main ways to respond to evil and suffering in the world: Praying - Christians should pray either that God will remove the causes of evil or that He should help Christians to bear evil and suffering.

What are the golden rules of the Church? ›

Golden Rule, precept in the Gospel of Matthew (7:12): “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. . . .” This rule of conduct is a summary of the Christian's duty to his neighbour and states a fundamental ethical principle.

What are the three things that make a sin mortal? ›

In the moral theology of Catholicism, a mortal sin requires that all of the following conditions are met:
  • Its subject matter must be grave. ...
  • It must be committed with full knowledge (and awareness) of the sinful action and the gravity of the offense.
  • It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.

What are the 4 C's of religion? ›

Religion is an explanation of the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly; based on a notion of the Transcendent. Normally it contains the four "C's": Creed, Code, Cult, Community-structure.

Is a dictatorship ruled by one person? ›

A dictatorship is a form of government, where one person effectively has all the power to run a country. This person is called a dictator. In very few cases, a small group of people holds this power, which is called an oligarchy.

Who carries out the laws in a dictatorship? ›

The defining characteristic of a dictatorship is that political and legal power stem from one leader who has ultimate, unchecked authority. In these types of countries, laws are made by decree or approval of the head of state, even if they have ostensible legislative bodies in place.

What is despotic rule of a dictator? ›

In political science, despotism (Greek: Δεσποτισμός, romanized: despotismós) is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. Normally, that entity is an individual, the despot; but (as in an autocracy) societies which limit respect and power to specific groups have also been called despotic.

What is an extreme example of a dictatorship? ›

Notable examples of right-wing dictatorships include Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Estado Novo, Francoist Spain, Russia under Vladimir Putin and a number of military dictatorships that ruled various Latin American countries during the Cold War.

Are there citizens in a dictatorship? ›

In general, citizens do not have rights in a dictatorship. They are not allowed to criticize or challenge the government, speak their minds, practice the religion of their choice, and be safe in their homes from governmental or law enforcement intrusion.

Who rules in a oligarchy? ›

Oligarchy (from Ancient Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía) 'rule by few'; from ὀλίγος (olígos) 'few', and ἄρχω (árkhō) 'to rule, command') is a conceptual form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people.

Who is the world's most famous dictator? ›

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

Perhaps the most infamous dictator of them all, the fascist ruler of Nazi Germany dragged the globe into another world war in 1939 after invading Poland.

Who was the toughest dictator? ›

8 Most Brutal Dictators In History
  • Mao Zedong. Reign: 1949-1976. Image of Mao Zedong. ...
  • Attila the Hun. Reign: AD 434-453. ...
  • Ivan the Terrible. Reign: 1533-1584. ...
  • Timur. Reign: 1370-1405. ...
  • Vlad the Impaler. Reign: 1448, 1456–62, and 1476–77. ...
  • Idi Amin. Reign: 1971-1979. ...
  • Adolf Hitler. Reign: 1933-1945. ...
  • Joseph Stalin. Reign: 1922-1953.
Dec 22, 2022

What was the power of the church during colonial times? ›

The Church controlled all aspects of life from birth, through marriage, until death. The Church became the single largest landowner within the colony, developing commercial agriculture to support many of its activities.

What was the political role of the church in the Middle Ages? ›

The church was not simply a religion and an institution; it was a category of thinking and a way of life. In medieval Europe, the church and the state were closely linked. It was the duty of every political authority -- king, queen, prince or city councilman -- to support, sustain and nurture the church.

Did church have power in feudalism? ›

Church leaders also held positions of power as feudal lords and as advisers to kings and nobles. The church preached that people should obey the laws of kings unless these laws con- flicted with church laws.

Does the Catholic Church have political power? ›

Catholics are instructed to participate in the political process, be informed voters, and to encourage elected officials to act on behalf of the common good. There are, however, limits to official Church political activity.

When did the church become powerful? ›

The Catholic Church became very rich and powerful during the Middle Ages. People gave the church 1/10th of their earnings in tithes. They also paid the church for various sacraments such as baptism, marriage, and communion. People also paid penances to the church.

What are three reasons why the church was so powerful in medieval life? ›

The Church Had enormous influence over the people of medieval Europe and had the power to make laws and influence monarchs. The church had much wealth and power as it owned much land and had taxes called tithes. It made separate laws and punishments to the monarch's laws and had the ability to send people to war.

How did the church control peasants lives? ›

Additionally, the church played an important role in determining a peasant's economic fate. Although the church itself was exempt from paying taxes, peasants were responsible for paying approximately ten percent of their earnings (either in cash or goods) in taxes to the church—known as tithes.

What broke the power of the Catholic Church over the people? ›

The Protestant Reformation was a religious reform movement that swept through Europe in the 1500s. It resulted in the creation of a branch of Christianity called Protestantism, a name used collectively to refer to the many religious groups that separated from the Roman Catholic Church due to differences in doctrine.

Why did the church have more power than the king? ›

The Church also did not have to pay taxes. This saved them lots of money and made it far more wealthy than any king of England. The wealth of the Church is best seen in its buildings such as cathedrals, churches and monasteries. The Church had immense wealth and political power.

How did the church control society in the Middle Ages? ›

The Church aggressively struggled against dissenters within and without: Christians who disagreed with the Church's teachings were considered heretics, and could be physically punished or even killed. Those of other faiths were also treated harshly.

Why did the medieval church have so much power? ›

With Roman Catholic ideals, the Church in the Medieval ages was seen as an intermediary between God and the people, as well as the idea that clergy were the so-called 'gatekeepers to heaven', filled people with a combination of respect, awe and fear.

When did the church become the dominant power in Europe? ›

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, there emerged no single powerful secular government in the West. There was however a central ecclesiastical power in Rome, the Catholic Church. In this power vacuum, the church rose to become the dominant power in the West.

Who has the most power in the Catholic Church? ›

Pope (Bishop of Rome)

Who took power from the Catholic Church? ›

In 1534, King Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic faith and created the Protestant Church of England (also called the Anglican Church). Henry established the Anglican faith as the official religion of England and made himself and future English monarchs head of the church.

Is the Catholic Church its own government? ›

The Holy See is the universal government of the Catholic Church and operates from Vatican City State, a sovereign, independent territory. The Pope is the ruler of both Vatican City State and the Holy See.


1. the Catholic Church is a dictatorship...🤣
(The Truth is Never Popular)
2. Pope Francis calls Nicaragua government ‘gross dictatorship’ amid Catholic church crackdown
(NBC News)
3. Patriarchy In The Church | Courageous Conversations '21
(Jude 3 Project)
4. The Intelligence Gathering Debate -
(NBCUniversal Archives)
5. Religions Explained Through Minecraft Villages
6. Universal Dictatorship of Humanistic Ideologies: The True Threat to the Church and the World
(Amy Bridwell)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Velia Krajcik

Last Updated: 08/25/2023

Views: 5980

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Velia Krajcik

Birthday: 1996-07-27

Address: 520 Balistreri Mount, South Armand, OR 60528

Phone: +466880739437

Job: Future Retail Associate

Hobby: Polo, Scouting, Worldbuilding, Cosplaying, Photography, Rowing, Nordic skating

Introduction: My name is Velia Krajcik, I am a handsome, clean, lucky, gleaming, magnificent, proud, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.