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Christian faith losing its hold on young people

COMMENTARY
By Leonard Khafafa | February 27th 2019

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it...”; Matthew 12:39

Kenya Film Classification Board Chairman Ezekiel Mutua’s diatribe against singer Akothee’s recent performance at the Coast has attracted support and opprobrium in equal measure. Support from those who think Akothee went a tad too far in her decision to “flash her nether areas and gyrate against men’s bodies.” Disapproval from those who felt Dr Mutua had no business trying to enforce a moral code that had no universal appeal.

In times when leaders equivocate on their belief systems, Dr Mutua is unabashedly Christian. As he has publicly stated previously, his faith is the true North that keeps him on the straight and narrow and informs his views on all matters including those of the public office he holds.

But for a nation that is supposedly 70 per cent Christian, the faith appears to be losing its hold, particularly on young people.

The pronouncements of members of the clergy are no longer taken to be gospel truth by a generation that seeks answers to burning issues of the day. This is also the generation that requires cogent proofs that leaders are walking the talk, leading by example.

Been ravaged

Unfortunately, the latter day church in Kenya is a pale shadow of the institutions of the 1980s and 1990s. It has come across to many as permissive and conflicted. Permissive because it has not spoken out against the numerous sexual scandals engulfing the gospel music industry.

Nor has it condemned those who are living in sin and others still, who are divorcing and remarrying on whims. Conflicted because the Catholic Church that, for years, has been ravaged by paedophilia scandals among the ranks of its priests, will not offer final rites for activist Caroline Mwatha, because of allegations of an abortion as being the cause of her death.

The church also comes across as sanctimonious. This is especially so, when homily after homily exhorts the virtues of righteous living but the clergy persists in inviting politicians for fundraisers, even when it is patently clear the funds donated are the proceeds of graft.  Then there is the tremendous trust gulf that keeps widening by the day on the strength of antics like those of Pastor Kanyari.

A charlatan who has duped many into giving copious amounts of cash, his con games continue to run unabated, despite exposure in print and electronic media. But it is the sad tale of Ekeza Savings and Credit Cooperative Society that reveals how pervasive the moral rot is.

David Ngare, a televangelist and owner of Ekeza, is alleged to have used his reputation as a man of the cloth to lure followers into pumping billions of shillings into his organisation. These sums have since been put to his personal use and there is little hope that hapless investors will recover their money.

Their hearts

There is urgent need for the church to repackage itself to reflect current times. It can no longer afford to remain a convenient crutch for flash-in-the-pan political types, or fly-by-night businessmen whose sole motive is to launder their illicit gains.

For a long time, it has remained inured to criticism because its moral fibre has mostly mirrored social mores of traditional society. Hard work ethics, honesty and a culture modeled around family were the essence of community. Not anymore.

Not in these present times when what was decadent yesteryear is common place today. Not in a society that once considered the stripping of women past child-bearing age the ultimate curse, who now elevate it to an art form.

Certainly not in a world where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) proponents, previously closeted, are now wearing their hearts on their sleeves, awaiting a High Court ruling that may decriminalise their activities.

A good starting point would be in an ecumenical stand on matters of national importance. The church is yet to make its voice heard in the fight against corruption.

It has been strangely silent on the fact that the economy is tanking. It has not demanded answers from those in authority about extra-judicial killings and the murder of activists who expose these.

Akothee’s mordant response to Ezekiel Mutua reveals her to be an inadvertent role model. Judging from the support she has received, including that of Nairobi women’s representative Esther Passaris, she is a force to reckon with.

In the silence of the church, others have stepped in to occupy that space, who may not necessarily be beacons of morality, but have the one sign this generation is looking for; consistency.

Mr Khafafa is Vice Chairman, Kenya-Turkey Business Council.

 

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