Churches, like all other religious institutions, play a vital role in the growth and development of a nation. You are the standard of morality. They also play a role in governance by shaping and advocating the right practices that should be promoted in our society. However, they can be abused by politics to create divisions among citizens.
In Northern Ireland, for example, there was a tragic war called “The Troubles” that lasted three decades (1968-1998). It was between Christians of Catholic and Protestant denominations. More than 3,500 people died and the nation split. Politics in this country played a big part in this war.
During the Rwandan genocide, churches are believed to have been a major contributor to events that killed more than 800,000 people.
In fact, Pope Francis met President Paul Kagame in 2017 and formally asked for forgiveness for the role of the Catholic Church in the 1994 massacre of Catholicism. ”
The Central African Republic is another case study. In 2012, Seleka, an armed organization representing Muslims from the northeast of the country, launched an attack on the government of then President Francois Bozize.
They seized power and their leader Michel Djotodia became president. Shortly afterwards, Anti-Balaka, another armed group mainly composed of Christians, began their fight against the Seleka. The result was the death of many citizens and properties. To date, this country has not been able to completely end these struggles.
During the post-election violence here in Kenya in 2007-08 dozens of innocent people, mostly children and women, were burned alive in a church in Kiambaa, Uasin Gishu County.
These examples clearly show that the worst can happen when politicians are given the opportunity to advance their personal agendas in places of worship.
On the way to the parliamentary elections in 2022, we began to see fighting in churches, the most recent example in the constituency of Kieni, where members of a certain political group had campaigned.
Another scenario was observed in 2019 when Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and nominee MP Maina Kamanda nearly exchanged blows during a church harambee in Murang’a County.
This pulpit policy must be stopped before it escalates before next year’s elections. I ask religious leaders to refrain from supporting certain politicians who normally visit these places of worship every Sunday to conduct politics under the guise of supporting church development programs.
Any financial contribution from these politicians should not be equated with a license to attack their opponents in the pulpit. It’s disrespectful and unacceptable.
Church leaders should always speak against bad leadership. They should speak out loudly against corruption and human rights violations, and promote democracy and the rule of law. You should never allow politicians to abuse the pulpit to advance their selfish political interests. History should be our teacher.
This is the time to pray for our nation, not the time to divide our people. I ask our politicians to refrain from making churches look like theaters of anarchy. Churches are and always will be holy places where we celebrate worship together and nourish each other spiritually.
Kenyans should also pray to God for wisdom to choose leaders who mean well for our country, not power-hungry people who run to churches for their personal goals.
Mr. Gikima is a Yali RLC East Africa Fellow, Cohort 40. @GikimaAlex