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Rigathi Gachagua has much to learn from Moi on Church, politics

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Your Excellency President William Ruto, kindly advice politicians allied to you, beginning with your deputy Rigathi Gachagua, to keep politics out of church pulpits. Why? We have no evidence that the wall hand-writer of the time of King Belshazzar was relieved of his duties by the heavenly council.

Is this a threat? Not at all! However, the recent pronunciations, especially from the deputy president attacking Raila Odinga while inside church politics doesn't augur well I guess even in heaven. Attack Raila as much as you can, but not from the pulpit because the God we worship is just and jealous.

Mr President, many pundits agree that, on church matters, you are a proselyte of former president Moi. I, therefore, plead with you to behold some lessons from your political father. Nevertheless, before I offer my advice from the plains, remember what Machiavelli said, “Those who draw pictures place themselves below in the plain to understand the nature of the high places, and to understand the plains place themselves upon high mountains.” Let me explain from familiar instances.

A close aide of President Moi’s, retired Bishop Silas Yego of Africa Inland Church (AIC), described Moi as “a devoted Christian whose endearing factor was his reluctance to mix politics with worship.” Yego reported that President Moi would instead address the congregants outside the church rather than “desecrate the altar with politics”. Was Bishop Yego praising Moi because the late president was his long-time church member and friend?

I have a similar testimony from other churches. For example, there was a story by Kamau Ngotho in The Standard titled, 'Day Moi sat in the church until night and never spoke a word'. Mr Kamau recounted two rare instances of President Moi attending Citam Church services, 10 years apart; one in 1987 and another in 1997.

In June 1997, he wrote, President Moi attended a church service at Citam but was not recognised nor introduced to the congregants. He left after the sermon. Ngotho recounted another incident on the Sunday of January 11, 1987, when the president attended a service where the preacher invited the congregants who needed prayers for a prayer session the following Tuesday.

Moi left the service without saying anything, and to their amazement, the president came for prayers on Tuesday. The president sat patiently for hours and was prayed for like any other person, to the amazement of the guest speaker and then left. Tell me, if you were God, wouldn’t you be pleased with such humility from a president?

Compare that with what happened early this year, when Meru Citam Presiding Bishop Calisto Odede was forced to interrupt Mithika Linturi during his address in the church. Mr Linturi tried to criticise Raila from the pulpit. I wish all preachers would act as swiftly, but more so, that they should not allow politicians address congregants from the pulpits. Not because politicians are not welcome in church but because sometimes they fail to show respect for the places of worship.

Your Excellency, as you admonished your Cabinet against alcoholism, the zeal to honour God should consume you the more. In the Bible, God was very particular regarding politics and matters of the alter, an equivalent of today’s church pulpit.

God ordained that politicians such as King Saul, and King David, among others, were not part of the priests who could offer sacrifices on his altar. Such duties were for his priests and kings and those who tried to usurp them like King Saul were rejected God even though he was the one who anointed them. Our God is a God of order and boundaries.

Likewise, Your Excellency, you are a church member and as a result you have attracted many politicians who attend church. See to it that all and sundry stop doing what is not acceptable to God in the places of worship.

Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer in the School of Music and Media at Kabarak University