Zimbabwe: maverick Anglican bishop bans 19 parishioners

 A group of parishioners opposed to their bishop for his support of Mugabe have been banned from their church. Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, head of the Anglican Church in Harare, won a court order banning 19 church wardens, officials and choir members after they protested during services in which he gave sermons praising the government. The parishioners, who said they want politics kept out of the church, will appeal for their banning order to be struck down by the Harare magistrate's court today, their lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told a South African news service. The order forbids them from worshipping at the main Anglican Cathedral in downtown Harare and from visiting church-owned buildings and activities until further notice. "It means they can be arrested, even if someone invites them to a parish house for tea," Mtetwa said. In court documents dated 25 September, Kunonga accused the parishioners of disrupting services, with choir members refusing to sing on one occasion, while on another, they lead the congregation into "uncontrollably" singing hymns to stop the service. He also alleged that some church wardens failed to follow routine administrative and financial procedures and were intent on subverting the authority of the bishop's office. Mtetwa described Kunonga's court application - and the granting of it - as irregular. Under diocese and parish rules, diocesan trustees normally need to agree before any legal action is taken. Kunonga was elected bishop last year and has been accused of using ruling party influence to secure the post. The report said it has been alleged he sacked priests who opposed his nomination. Earlier this year several church leaders from different denominations protested at his public support for the government.

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