The Church's silence or responsibility over the nation of Kenya has been mentioned many times. For a nation that is over 80 per cent Christian it would be expected that our behaviour would be over 80 per cent Christian, 10 per cent Muslim, five per cent Hindu, and five per cent African traditional religion. The facts on the ground, however, are that there is minimal impact on our behaviour no matter how many times we attend church, mosque, or temple.
The morals taught in our holy books are not translated into holy lives. The question must be asked, what is our religion for? The fact that our politics is tribal is a direct failure of the religious class and that failure goes beyond the surface. This failure can best be seen in how 'prophesies' from churches tend to favour the tribal kingpin for whom the 'prophet' speaks.
That the voice of God isn’t one across the country means Kenyans got used to ignoring their preachers who seemed to take political sides based purely on tribal background. Once the name of a preacher is mentioned, we know which side he will 'prophesy' about.
This connection goes much further. Besides the tribe, we must understand that the biggest givers in modern-day churches are politicians and their close associates. This money is what keeps the preacher going, for without it, he has to settle for the little amounts given by the common folk.
Whereas we would like to think that Kenyans give a lot, the truth is that only 10 per cent of any church’s population gives 90 per cent of what sustains the church. This reality means that preachers are torn between working for God and preaching for tithe.
This working for tithe forces preachers to ingratiate themselves with the churchgoers. It means that they will always teach about tithe and giving - which they need - and material increase, which is what the attendees want to hear. Further, the giving is categorised by amount and celebrated by quantity. Blessings are said for big givers and passing waves of the hand for the widow with her two coins.
This glorification of material gain means that for six days of the week, the average Christian is not consumed with the state of their soul, but rather the state of their pocket and personal prosperity. This Christian never thinks critically of what is good or bad. Instead, they think what is prosperous and what is poverty. Thus, religion becomes impotent to a tribal and corrupt society, because tribalism and corruption seem to be the easiest route to success. Further, our enemies, and therefore the messengers of Satan, become those who oppose our tribal and corrupt interests.
The testimonies in churches are a sign of what our focus is. There are three testimonies: money, promotion, and healing. There is almost no narration of vital change in the state of our character. We speak of increase in wealth and touch nothing on character, and in this same space we receive vast sums of money from people we saw on TV being accused of financial impropriety.
As such, the clergy is captive to its financiers and congregants. The financiers often threaten to pull out their funding, which causes all manner of panic as many churches are in debt trying to keep up with the cost of purchasing and building their own structures. Preachers cannot, therefore, find themselves in a situation where they speak of political stances outside their benefactors' interests.
Beyond that the preacher cannot spend time talking about the state of our characters because we love to be encouraged more than we love to be challenged. Thus preachers are reduced to cheer leaders in our lives and not coaches. We have candy dispensers and not dentists.
Because the moment we are uncomfortable with the preacher telling us hard truths we shift to the next church, with more entertaining sermons and a better arranged musical, and not necessarily a worshipful experience. We are uncorrectable children obsessed with the fun of childhood, branding our preachers with the hash-tag my pastor is cooler than yours.
This clergy is imprisoned, and the only way we can break out is to decide that we have heard enough sermons on breakthrough, we have heard enough prophesies on prosperity, and now we are ready to hear the message of a changed character. We want sermons that tell us we cannot be corrupt and believers, we can’t be tribal and believers. We can’t be both full of hate and full of love and full of God.
This mix is a lie and we must as believers begin to demand that if we love, we love all, regardless of tribe. We can’t judge based on tribe. We must agree that church is not a place we go to receive comfort, it must also be a place where our hate and character vices are forcefully removed. We must also agree to be the kind of members who will not accept money that is tainted with the blood of a nation.
Mr Bichachi is a communication consultant. [email protected]