Mtata noted that 2024 is the biggest year yet for democracy because countries making up almost half the population of the world—including Russia, the UK, Mexico, US, Taiwan, India, South Africa, and others—go to some form of election in 2024.
“Nations that used to be models and champions of democracy have proved inconsistent and hypocritical, especially in their dealings with other countries,” said Mtata. “They punish countries they label undemocratic if they are not their friends and turn a blind eye on countries abusing human rights if they happen to be their friends.”
Mtata named the rise of new global blocks and the emergence of a multi-polar world as challenges to democracy. “The resurgence of religion in the public sphere is a trend to observe,” he said. “Realizing that these trends have many religious tentacles, it is imperative that the church, especially the global ecumenical church, do something about this.”
He urged churches to strengthen their capacity for effective participation in the public sphere. “This capacity involves translating the religious language of justice and peace into more secular and accessible language,” he said. “The World Council of Churches also amplifies the local voices of justice and peace champions at the global arena.”
The WCC also promotes civic participation and pluralism, Mtata relfected. “It also provides protection for minorities and civil rights actors facing persecution through solidarity visits and bringing their cases to the relevant platforms,” he said. “The church can also deploy its value-driven members to occupy public office.”
The church also convenes or accompanies nation-building and peace processes, Mtata said. “The church must lend its voice within its own constituency to promote democracy,” he said. “The church can also promote the value and significance and improvement of the multilateral system.”
Mtata underscored the importance of young people constituting the majority of the population, especially in developing countries. “Churches can work in partnership with others to promote media literacy and civic education, especially among young people,” he said. “The church can also continue developing moral leadership through its theological training. At the end of the day, to have moral voices with authority comes from an investment in education and formation.”