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Religious Institutions Shaping Political Leadership: Time to Rethink Secular Role

by litfeed
2 mins read
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By George Kimando

This conversation has refused to dissipate. And we revisit it, with a novel purpose.

In no less than three debates on national television over the past week, I have watched religious leaders discuss the matter, reinforcing the perception that politics should be conducted away from the altar. You know, like it’s something dirty to only tolerate as an evil necessity.

The most poignant of the discussions happened last Sunday evening on a popular vernacular television station great minds converged in the name of the Reverend Sammy Wainaina (Provost, All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi), Dr Timothy Njoya (retired Moderator, PCEA), and Dr Geoffrey Njuguna (Bishop, Deliverance Church).

The same perception was reinforced that politics is dirty, and should be left for the uncouth, conniving characters that politicians appear to be.

So does it have to be like this, and what to do about it? Are we that cynical and helpless? 

A possible credible answer came in a very interesting manner.

Last Sunday’s message here elicited interesting responses, several of them from political leaders. I will single out one of them for a particular reason.

This is Governor Joseph ole Lenku of Kajiado County, an ardent reader of this column. He called in person with a very interesting testimony and a vision. He doesn’t believe in the perception that politics is dirty and for the dirty.

The reason I single him out is because he has a vision that is direly needed in this country: Mentoring and forming secular leadership from religious platforms and principles.

He has a personal testimony. When he first wanted to run for a parliamentary seat many years ago, he was called aside by his church elders and cautioned, ‘siasa itaharibu wewe’. He ran and lost, to the joy of his church leadership that he remained on the ‘right side’ of his Christian service. See, politics is for the dirty guys!

He echoes sentiments expressed the previous week by Bishop Emeritus of Citam, Dr David Oginde: if the people with the right orientation to servant leadership shy away from political leadership, terming it dirty and to be observed from a distance, then who will ever clean the dirt therein? Why even complain when the ‘dirty elected’ mess up stuff for everyone?

Governor Lenku sees a gap in mentoring these kinds of leaders and has his finger at the heart of it, harnessing like-minded leaders – both from religious and secular realms – to push the idea to action.

Now, that’s a worthwhile endeavour, deserving support from well-meaning Kenyans. It’s the kind of initiative that, if well developed and implemented, will see transformative leadership in key national platforms, right from the grassroots. It’s a genuine and selfless way to serve humanity, even when it doesn’t come with the immense personal gains associated with opulent high political offices.

Right there is a serious thought.

The church, – and other religious institutions – I agree, must stop the bias and partisan political associations, largely driven by individual gains. It must reclaim its rightful role in shepherding the laity in the ways of light. And that includes politics and politicians.

Politicians come from us: our families, our communities, our churches, and religious institutions, our relationships, kith, and kin…they are us.

I wholly support the idea of mentoring political leadership from the religious platforms, with principles and convictions to boot.

Barring protests from atheists and liberals that we are not a religious state, I think it’s a most novel and noble idea.

It will be to our benefit as a nation to tether our political leaders from the straight and narrow altars, reminding them of the higher calling that is shepherding the people of God.

On this one and politics aside, I am convinced Governor Lenku deserves support. I didn’t ask him if he knows Dr Oginde at a personal level, but these are minds that need to get together, among others. I am certain it won’t be difficult for them to liaise and harness the synergy of ideas like these.

And I believe there are many others of a similar opinion. Can we stand up to be counted?

Have a resolute Sunday, and a great week ahead!

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