By George Kimando
Last week, I watched a very interesting discussion in a television station hosting three men of the word: Dr David Oginde (Bishop Emeritus, CITAM), Sheikh Ibrahim Lethome (Muslim scholar and leader, Jamia Mosque) and Dr Timothy Njoya (retired Moderator, PCEA).
At the core of the discussion were the blurred lines between church and politics, and the seeming swallowing of the church by the political class with undue influence.
The three gentlemen were all agreed: God cannot be bribed. He does not change. He cannot be swayed by pretentious offerings. He cannot be influenced by unclean supplications and tithes from unholy sources. Church leaders and ministers who acquiescence to such endeavours don’t do it on behalf of God, but for their own advantage.
They were ruthless with that fundamental truth.
This led to two other fundamental questions. One, what is the role of the church and other religious platforms in the running of the State? And two, if the religious leaders are so strict with adherence to the straight and narrow, why don’t they then take up political leadership?
The answers from the three were provocatively true. Politics is a dirty game (we’ve always heard that). We need the sober people on this religious side to keep the dirt on the other in check. Those who leave the collar for politics change and become like them politicians, and effect no change, indeed, making people believe more in the corrupting effect of politics. Kenyans simply love thugs to lead them, and that’s why they keep electing them. When you try sobriety with Kenyans, they will laugh off in your face and ask you to stop wasting time with empty words.
Now, that was sobering truth. And a deep indictment of the church.
Is our politics that irredeemably dirty, that even the best of us get lost in it when they get involved? What happened to the then fiery and admirable ‘Young Turks’ of the touted second liberation when they got to power, especially after 2002?
What happened to the unequivocal church of the 1980s through the nineties when they stood up against a most ruthless and corrupt regime?
Where did the uncompromised clarity of the voices of Bishops Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki, Alexander Muge, David Gitari, and Henry Okullu, Maurice Cardinal Otunga, et al, disappear to?
Where went the church that was the true voice of God, the church that spoke, and the powers that were stood on their tracks to listen, and even changed course?
Has greed, selfishness, and corruption invaded the altars of divine sacrifice and offerings that even believers have lost direction?
Has the present-day church disappointed, misguided, and misdirected the faithful for personal gain?
Has the church made believers see like God has let them down?
The profound takeaway from that discussion, in my view, was one: A wake-up call to the church to be consistent with the teachings of Christ and address not just spiritual matters, but socio-economic issues, matters that affect people, from the standpoint of God.
Politics cannot be this dirty where an effective church is alive. We do not need to have religious leaders take up political leadership, but they have perhaps the strongest influence over the political leadership to guide the common good of all the peoples.
But to achieve this, the church needs the benefit of unblemished integrity and an unequivocal conviction of unassailable truth and justice, not just pontificated from pulpits, but seen in word and deed of those we look up to for spiritual guidance.
And that’s the burden that befalls the church – and generally religious – leadership. You must set aside personal interests and stop carnal indulgence if you expect to be taken seriously by the political leadership of the day.
A politician cannot bribe you (that is what in essence ‘personal donations’ are) and take your word against corruption seriously. It will just be another hollow statement from a satisfied glutton simply keeping the wretched of the earth pacified as their oppressors mock the spiritual altars.
And know what? You will be answerable for that mockery of the altar of God. Peke yako.
It’s not that complicated. We just need to have pure servants at the altars. The rest will fall in place.
Have an uncomplicated Sunday, and a great week ahead.
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