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Amid Cascade of Coups, African Christians Debate Civic Duty 

Image: John Wessels / AFP / Getty Images

There is an “epidemic” of military coups in Africa, says the head of the United Nations. The past year and a half witnessed the overthrow of governments in Mali (twice), Chad, Guinea, Sudan, and Burkina Faso. At least three additional attempts were thwarted in Madagascar, the Central African Republic, and Niger.

Averaging two per year for the last decade, this is Africa’s largest surge since 1999.

What should Christians in these nations do about it?

Abel Ngarsouledé of Chad, where roughly 45 percent of the Muslim-majority nation is Christian, is walking it through.

“It is not for me to support a military coup in my country,” said the secretary general of the doctoral program at the Evangelical University of Chad. “But if God wants to remove a king from his throne, [God] uses all the means in his power to restore his fear and justice in the land.”

When Chad’s president was killed on the battlefield last April, the army moved quickly to place his son in charge of a 15-member Transitional Military Council that would govern for 18 months, renewable once. Pledging to hold a national dialogue, invitations were sent to rebel groups, politicians, civil society, academics, and religious leaders.

Ngarsouledé accepted.

With the council now delayed until May, he serves on two committee in a process designed to lead to reconciliation, social cohesion, and new elections. There are no guarantees any of these will happen, he says, and asks for prayer.

Also deputy director of the Council of Theological Institutions in Francophone Africa, Ngarsouledé recalled that at times in Old Testament history, God used prophets or priests to depose kings. Though today prayer should be employed, he is not so concerned about the end result.

“The form of the state is not the subject of biblical teaching,” he said, noting God’s priority for peace and justice. “It is men who adopt this or that form of governance, according to the orientation of their hearts.”

If Ngarsouledé’s opinion does not reflect the ironclad American Christian defense of democracy, he is not the only African Christian leader failing to do so. “Between democracy and autocracy, democracy seems to be the best suited at the moment,” said…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on March 17, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.


Friday Prayers for Egypt: Constitution Open

Flag Cross Quran


Egypt has taken its first concrete step forward since President Morsi was removed. By completing the draft constitution, set for a referendum in January, the roadmap for rebuilding democracy is underway.

But it is ill-defined. The constitution leaves open the order of elections, if parliamentary or presidential will occur first. It also does not determine the nature of the parliamentary system, if by individual candidates, party lists, or some combination thereof. These will be decided by interim presidential fiat.

God, constitutional delegates were unable to come to consensus, why? Are there power politics behind the scenes? Is there an explanation that is more comforting? Given the chance to shape one of the most crucial aspects of democracy – the parliament – the committee passed.

It may be, God, that Egypt needs a strong head of state, and power to determine these matters is being passed to the eventual holder of this post. Your principles, God, are higher than the details of political systems; establish one that is just, equitable, and transparent.

But do so transparently. Hold accountable those in the committee and those they represent. Hold accountable the government and the police and the military. They have been given a trust; may they prove faithful.

Within the document, for those that support the removal of Morsi in the first place, perhaps they have tried. Provisions for rights and freedoms have been strengthened, with the limiting language of religion largely removed.

Unless, God, this represents their weakening. For many against the removal of Morsi the language of religion is not to limit, but to protect. How much license should the state give to violate your law?

If it is. For others these are distracting issues of identity which mask a different problem: Many articles establish a principle, leaving definition determined by a law to come. Will parliament decide these issues wisely?

But now, God, the constitution is in the hands of the people. Help society to study well and debate thoroughly. Voting yes will continue the roadmap and potentially validate Morsi’s removal. Voting no is unclear in result, but requires a return to the drawing board.

Whether now or later, God, give Egypt consensus in her constitution. All is open.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Presidential Musings


It seems things can never be simple in Egypt. While the official registration period for presidential candidacy does not open for a few weeks, Egypt already has multiple self-professed seekers, as well as one to drop out already. Some have been bold and outspoken, others lie quietly and wait. And for the Muslim Brotherhood, there is a candidate they will support who they claim will be a surprise to everyone.

For all these individuals, God, give them a sense of purpose and national pride. Keep the scent of power from corrupting their morals, and may they engage the political process with dignity and honor, as indeed most are doing. Many seem to be leaders of good character; bless them and Egypt as competition nears.

Nevertheless, rumors have been rampant there will be a consensus president before the competition even begins. On the one hand, this can be seen to find a candidate acceptable to all, to smooth the transition. On the other, it is accused of being a back door deal, to find consensus between the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Man has schemed for ages on end, God, and there is little expectation it will stop soon. Is it best to avoid a contentious campaign? Does the transition to democracy find support if one candidate can be agreed upon across the political spectrum? Or does this short-circuit democracy itself? Honor the people, God, and give them true agency. May their choice be real, and may they believe it is real. Build confidence in their role in society, that the nation is theirs to govern. May several candidates emerge to represent them, may the victor be best for Egypt, and win the respect of all.

Keep the candidates safe, God, as one was attacked just this morning. Preside as well over the former president, whose trial decision will be released soon. You know the truth of his guilt or innocence, God – may justice be done. May the decision be transparent so that all may accept; keep men from violence if they are disappointed. Bind the hands of potential sabotage.

God, protect Egypt. As the transition to full democratic rule approaches, the stakes grow higher and higher. May agreement and consensus be found. May the institutions of state be strengthened and reformed. May security reverse the gains of crime. May Egyptians hope once again in their nation.

Give Egypt a good government, God; give her a good president.