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Church has sinned on law review

By | March 10th 2010

By Andrew Kipkemboi

Were the beef about the inclusion of Kadhi’s courts or when life really begins in the Proposed Constitution purely ideological, I would not dare wade into the storm that the Church has kicked up. Unfortunately, the debate, especially by my Christian brothers, has taken the low road that could, if not checked, end up creating more problems than we are trying to solve.

My beef with the Church is its refusal to be part of the solution. In 2005, the Church dithered over the constitution.

In 2007 many of them took the plunge perhaps when they realised they needed to change things from within. Those who scraped through to Parliament paint a different picture.

Make no mistake, I profess Christianity and in no way would I compromise my civil liberties. I understand where the Christians are coming from. I disagree with them when they exhort their flock to vote ‘No’ based on the clauses on Kadhi’s courts and abortion. I find that simplistic, absurd and tragic.

First, the clamour for a new constitution was never about Kadhi’s courts or abortion. The fiery messages from the pulpit suggest that the Church would rather throw out the baby with the bathwater.

If your arm causes you to steal, you cut it off, says the Bible. Of course this rationale cannot be taken literally, but should the two clauses be the reason to deny us the much-needed break from the past?

In truth, the 20-year-old push for a new constitution has been mostly about nothing else but good governance. Indeed, Kenyans —rightly or wrongly —attribute what is wrong with their country to the present Constitution.

The ruling class, aided by an imperfect Constitution, perpetuates the grotesque levels of poverty, the cruel injustices and the random destitution.

Even the men of cloth know that they cannot congregate in times of anarchy and war.

I remember the empty pews at my usually packed church in the aftermath of post-election violence.


As I walked into my church last Sunday, the ushers handed me a leaflet that dripped in disinformation and intolerance and the scenes from the past flooded my mind as I wondered what the Church was up to. The strident opposition to the Proposed Constitution is unlike what Christians are known for. Naturally, the Church must be wary of the liberal Christians (they like to call them lukewarm) in their midst and fight for their turf. The Church has always used persuasion, and sometimes disinformation —the best subtle psychological techniques — to a great success. Why they have chosen incendiary techniques is beyond my understanding.

The danger with this is that the Church is alienating and pushing away into worldly wilderness a huge lot of liberal faithful.

You could say , as my priest always emphasises, all that is in the Earth will go. And that it is our souls that matter most. Nevertheless, God never wished us a life of misery and anarchy. He is an all-loving, compromising and forgiving God. We also pray for our leaders, sin-free or sin-full.

The Christian faith is based on reward and punishment and above all else, God gives us, through the holy spirit, the power to choose between what is right and wrong : the ultimate test of a true Christian. All are born sinful and life is the ultimate gift and measure of God’s love for us.

Yet in truth, most of us are plastic Christians. And the agitation to create a fault-proof life could be the search for a perfect life on earth, which many of us agree is unattainable.

Again, the line between what is compatible with the Christian faith must not be blurred. No doubt, it is easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for some of those holy men and women to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Ideally, the Church must embrace change as being part and as a consequence of occurrences in society.

In fact, for all its faults, the political class has given more solutions than the present Church.

After abandoning their flock for so long, the Church is back hammer and tongs proclaiming a high moral ground.

For dithering, the Church was a casualty of the 2005 referendum. Its policy of non-interference made it look weak in 2007. It emerged discredited and divisive. In fact, its belated calls for peace after violence erupted were largely ignored because many lacked the authority. They were defined most by their impartiality.

New light

In the new Constitution, the country has a chance to wipe away the bad memories of the past.

Secondly, the history of science and the Church has been that one of refusal, denial and a grudging acceptance. We cannot deny the benefits of science in medicine for mankind. After all, all things work together well for the glory of the Lord. Advances in embryo research and stem cell research are helping in the treatment of cancer. Modern means of reproduction and contraception is shedding new light not only on the beauty and delicate nature of life but also on the sanctity of life.

The writer is The Standard’s Foreign News Editor. [email protected]

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