What pulpit ban? DP Ruto addresses Kiambu church, donates Sh2m

Deputy President William Ruto attended the Sunday service at the AIPCA Gathaithi church in Githunguri, Kiambu County.

Despite last week’s warning from senior clerics, politicians are still flocking churches to address the congregation.

Deputy President William Ruto attended the service at the AIPCA church in Kiambu.

Seemingly aware of the call to keep politicians away from the pulpit, Dr Ruto quoted scripture, saying blessed is the giver, not the receiver.

Last week, Anglican Churches of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit poked holes in politicians' attendance, address and church fundraising events, saying it is a major tactic used by politicians to try and sway the church into supporting them.

However, Ruto said “we come as Christians” to support church projects.

While at AIPCA today, Ruto offered Sh1 million to buy a house and start a business for a woman identified only as Mama Njeri.

The money is also meant to help her take her two children out of the children’s home they currently live in.

The children’s home, Ruto said, will receive a donation of Sh300,000.

Further, 100 bags of maize will be delivered to the home next week.

The DP gave Sh2 million for the AIPCA church project and invited the clerics to his Karen residence to discuss another project for Sh5 million.

Ruto was with Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, MPs Kimani Ichungwah (Kikuyu), Rigathi Gachagwa (Mathira), Alice Wahome (Kandara), Njuguna Wanjiku (Kiambaa), George Kariuki (Ndia), James Gakuya (Embakasi North) and Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town).

Others were nominated senator Isaac Mwaura, Gathoni Wamuchomba (Kiambu County), Sylvanus Osoro (South Mugirango), and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

Meanwhile, on his part, Amani leader Musalia Mudavadi was at Methodist Church of Kenya Chabueni in Kithoka in Meru on his second day visit of the larger Meru county to woo the people of Mt Kenya to support his presidential bid.

The Catholic Archbishop of Nyeri Anthony Muheria last week announced politicians will not be allowed to speak in church.

Later, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) reiterated this position.

A similar stand was declared by other major umbrella bodies – including the National Council of Churches (NCCK) and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK).

The AIPCA last week announced they had placed a ban on politicians speaking from the pulpit.

Since a majority of Kenyans are Christians, politicians have been seeking to identify with the church to win members' support, and in some cases turned the services into political meetings.

Last week, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Mudavadi were denied a chance to address faithful during a church event in Butere, Kakamega County.

“We welcome everyone, but we have to make the church to be the church. We have many leaders in attendance who we shall just recognise,” said Jackson Ole Sapit.

With a majority of Kenyans believed to be going to church every Sunday, the religious institutions are seen as a major puller of people, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when public gatherings are banned. The churches have been given a leeway to continue with services with limited members.

The ban on political gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic has also left religious institutions as the only gatherings where people are allowed to meet socially.

In August, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has banned political campaigns in churches ahead of next year’s General Election.

Chairman Archbishop Martin Kivuva directed Catholic officials not to allow politicians to take advantage of their congregation to make a political statement in churches.