Opinion: The unholy alliance between the Church and State

We must remain a secular State as envisaged in the Constitution or else these will be the first step of the rise of a fundamentalist, theocratic State. [iStockphoto]

I choose to write about the Church and the State at a time when most Christians globally have just celebrated Christmas, a celebration that is believed in Christendom to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, I was born and brought up in a devoted Christian home (my old lady still is a serving member of the Deacons Board). I was educated in Christian-sponsored schools. I was attached to Christianity first by birth, then by choice, and finally by love. Religion and more particularly Christianity has shaped not only my morality but also the morality of many Kenyans both young and old.

However, we are staring danger in the face if we, the people of Kenya will not act with serious urgency now to forestall the snowballing crisis of increased coziness between church and State. There is a reason why the framers of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 sought to establish that dichotomy between church and State in Article 8 of the Constitution.

It must be remembered that the idea of Kenya as a Nation was first conceived in or around 1897 when the Imperial British East Africa Company took over to administer British East Africa's sphere of influence as a Protectorate of the British. Then as the colonial enterprise was setting root, to pacify the local otherwise hostile population, the missionaries (essentially the church) came in handy in preaching the messianic mission of the colonial government and the superiority of Christianity over indigenous religion(s).

What we then witness from then on up to the time we attain independence, is massive brutalization of our people in the name of the crown (read State) and in the name of God (read church).  As our people demanded civil and political rights, we had people like Archdeacon Walter E Owen of ACK Diocese Maseno helping form associations that were committed to social demands in isolation while not calling out the colonial government over its eccentricities. 

First forward to post-independence, the church's leadership sat comfortably and intimately with the State. What then follows is that the church becomes a reflection of ethnic and political divisions in the country. A case in point is when African Inland Church (AIC) was openly identified as "A Kanu Kalenjin church", to the extent that its head Bishop Silas Yego, openly associated with the late Retired President Daniel Moi and attended some Kanu meetings. 

When the giant body of Protestant churches the National Council of Churches Kenya (NCCK) criticised the late President Moi over his excesses, Yego would take it upon himself to defend him. Interestingly the NCCK under the eloquent Rev Cannon Peter Karanja would suffer a similar fate when the President was a Kikuyu and he was viewed as an apologist for the "Kikuyu State"

The saddest of all these is that we have in State House a leadership that has appropriated God to the exclusion of everyone else who so not share in their political philosophy. We witnessed with horror when we were told that the elections of 9th August 2022 were won by those who believe in God. How ridiculous! Didn't Christ teach us to love our enemies?

Didn't Christ teach us ecumenism rather than sectionalism? But even if all these were immaterial then what then happens to Agnostics, Atheists, and non-Christians? Are they less deserving citizens because they don't believe in what President William Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza brigade believe in? There is a very good reason why in the Preamble of our Constitution we reiterate our pride as a people in our ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. 

After the misses of the first 100 days, the President must remember we didn't put him in office to evangelise to us. If anything, we, the people at individual levels reserve the right to choose what to believe in. To choose what is God and choose how to perceive him. This is a right that we will not and will never cede to the State or any of its agents. We must remain a secular State as envisaged in the Constitution or else these will be the first step of the rise of a fundamentalist, theocratic State. 

“We are going to forget religion. Put your religion at home, in the closet. Keep it between You and Your God- because if it has not done anything more for you than it has, you need to forget it anyway,” Malcom X

Writer is a Governance and Policy Expert

Shipping & Logistics
Register shipping lines to boost revenue, Kenya now advised
Real Estate
Embrace digitisation to cut costs, contractors urged
Real Estate
Key lessons from Ethiopia's lottery based housing system
Real Estate
Surveyors seek end to unlawful land subdivision, rogue lobbies