Tough times ahead as more clerics ban politicians from pulpits
Thursday, September 16th, 2021 02:17 | 3 mins read
Rawlings Otieno and Clement Kamau
Politicians were yesterday staring at tough times ahead as more churches joined in the calls to ban them from the pulpit.
Yesterday, the Catholic Church and the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), the umbrella body of protestant churches in the country, joined the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) in banning political speeches in places of worship.
At a press conference yesterday, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) directed its priests to stop leaders from selling their political messages in churches.
“Our places of worship and liturgy are sacred and should not serve as political arenas. The Church is above politics.
The priests are to ensure that places of worship are not used by leaders to further their political agenda.
Any politician, who attends Mass, must do so like any other worshipper and no special consideration should be made for him or her to propagate his or her political agenda nor address the congregation in our places of worship,” said KCCB chair Archbishop Martin Kivuva.
Separately, the NCCK urged the clergy not to entertain political rhetoric in churches.
NCCK General Secretary Canon Chris Kinyanjui said the church would remain steadfast in ensuring that no politician will be allowed to use the pulpit to further their political interests.
He said that politicians should attend church services as ordinary worshipers and called upon all churches under the NCCK umbrella to strictly implement the directive.
“The pulpit is a holy place for the clergy and not for politicians and we urge the clergy to be courageous enough and say no to politicians’ overtures aimed at allowing them to use the pulpit,” he said.
He went on: “We are not calling them strangers but they will be treated as “strangers” the same way one is treated while in Parliament.”
Kinyanjui made the remarks at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru during a University Christian leadership retreat, which brought together Christian Union Catholic Action and SDA student leaders from the University of Nairobi.
But even as the mainstream churches moved to impose their ban, Deputy President William Ruto’s handlers indicated that he will celebrate mass at the African Holy Spirit Church in Malava constituency this Sunday.
Separately, billionaire businessman Jimi Wanjigi also indicated that he would celebrate mass at the Kibuye Catholic Church in Kisumu on the same day.
Wanjigi will be on a four day tour of Nyanza region to drum up support for his presidential bid on the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) ticket where he is expected to lock horns with opposition chief Raila Odinga during the party primaries.
Raila, who alongside scores of other political bigwigs including opposition chiefs Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and governors Wycliffe Oparanya and James Ongwae were barred from addressing faithful during the consecration of Butere ACK bishop Rose Okeno last weekend, welcomed the ban on politicking in churches.
Speaking in Limuru, Kiambu county yesterday, Raila said the move would ensure that the pulpit remains holy.
“Some people used the pulpit to demonise others. You have heard some referring to me as mganga not knowing that there’s a difference between mganga (herbalist) na mrogi (wizard),” he said.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui also lauded the move by the church to ban politicking. “The decision by the Church to reclaim the pulpit from the political class is most welcome,” he said.
“This is a move that should have happened long ago. Let our places of worship remain just that; sacred and respected.
We should go to church for spiritual nourishment and communion with our Maker,” he said.
Last week, Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) issued a similar directive through Senior Pastor Thomas Nyakundi, who is in charge of Nyamira County.