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The Power of the Pulpit Versus Politics
by Maina Kabukuru
10/07/06
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“The Power of Pulpit Versus Politics”

“That which is not in the interests of the hive cannot be in the interests of the bee.” (Marcus Aurelius).

As the Kenyan church totters in search of political power, reality shows that it will have to rethink its mandate and reengineer itself. This is because the history of the church and other religions worldwide seems to suggest otherwise.

The history of the church and religious involvement in politics seem to be festered with intolerance. Could the pandemic intolerance that is inherent in all religious beliefs be the driving engine of the renewed search for absolute political power or is the search a genuine projection of the emerging realities that the “Kingdom of God is among men?”

For some reasons the Evangelicals seem to be readying themselves for political power play. The current Evangelical bullish demeanor in their interest and what is now becoming as a preoccupation towards the temple of political power raises issues that befuddle all. For instance, after their ascendancy to power, what is it that they will offer that will be different from all others?

The current religious luminaries who have shown interest with political power among them are Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of the Jesus Is Alive Ministries, Rev. Wilfred Lai of the Jesus Celebration Centre a Ministry affiliated to Redeemed Gospel Church is poignant in his statement when he recently stated that, ‘they would not mind having one of their own reside at State House.’

As we have stated earlier on this series, it should be understood that ours is not to condemn or cajole those who wish to enter into raw politics by leaving the pulpit but rather to question the rationale behind the abandonment of the pulpit in exchange for political power.

History has a bleak picture on what happens when the church or religion for that matter becomes entwined with politics. That Christian or religious men should engage in politics and drive politics as it were is besides the point here.

A few years ago the President of Zambia; Fredrick Chiluba an Assemblies of God church member and elder in addition to being a former versatile Trade Unionist, while shown in the media as a God fearing man earlier in his tenure, seems to have lost all as he got engrossed with politics.

Former President Chiluba is not the only one who seems to have gone through that predicament. Actually, there are more of them than one cares to count. What really is the problem and why should it be so difficult to engage in politics while being religious at the same time?

It is with this in mind that we seek to defrock all the “isms” as it were in the body politics. Ours also is the need to allow positive synergies brought about from the interaction between religion and the secular philosophies work for the good of all.

However, as we have stated before in our series, history has proved the probability being elusive and more intolerant from both the secular and religious constructs. The reasons being that extremism is a beckoning call from both the sides. Corruption allegations and other laps in moral aptitude seem to be a part of all systems regardless of who is the leader.

While it is impossible to separate religion from politics, it is unfathomable to deny anyone involvement in either of the two spheres of life. However, the challenge is how does one balance the two and how can one without engaging in unnecessary shenanigans pull the resources of leadership from both the opposing constructs?

The very fact that some of the most coherent most trained personnel are in the religious field; beckons their involvement as it were in the body politics. The Protestant Christian church leaders and the other Religious leaders are not barred from getting involved totally in raw politics, while their counter parts in the Roman Catholic Church are.

The Roman Catholic Priest cannot enter into raw politics, though this is not clear since the church has papal priestly representative in most if not all countries, these priestly diplomats in the rank of Cardinals represent the see of St Peter in Rome.

In the current Parliament several of the Protestant church leaders can be identified; for instance, Hon. Akaranga, Gumbe, Bishop Ondiek among others. The question that comes into fore is, “What is their influence in the body politics?”

How has ‘religion’ as it were impacted on the socio-economic paradigm of the country?
While this and many other questions linger, will religion – Christianity, Islam or Mungiki and Secularism drive us towards the Millennial kingdom or are they symbols of intolerance and perennial Dance of Death and Life?

That the very basis of all religious thought is founded on esoteric beliefs and writings is the essence and embedment of the seeds of intolerance. The growth of secularist governments in the European sub-continent is testimony to rejection and reaction towards organized religion.

Unfortunately, while initially secularism sought to free individuals from religious intolerance it is slowly turning into what it loathed most. It is fighting religion tooth and nail in order to scrap it from the European sub-continent.

It is sad that in our search for the ultimate, we have become pawns of the unrelenting, intolerant deities who drive us to all forms of terrorism. The ideologies promulgated by terrorist and the so-called counter terrorist’s agencies are pegged on the belief of fear creation.

The terrorists who are both legitimate governments or their agencies or the lone-ranger loose-cannon-vigilantes of sorts, for some reasons or the other use and clothe their grievances under a religious garb. They seek legitimacy through association and use of religious symbols.

My submission is that the church could work through proxies instead of allowing themselves to engage in unnecessary raw politics. This, the evangelical churches can borrow from the Catholic Church, for the Catholics are virtually represented in all world policy forums. This they will do vide embracing intellectual and scholastic approach to pertinent issues while relegating proof texting or propaganda forms of indoctrination as their modus operandi.

What has happened that the belief that prayers changes things no longer works? What is the opportunity cost of having for instance Bishop Margaret Wanjiru in raw politics, while she has shown her prowess without being engaged in crude politics? A case in point is the last year’s Referendum on Kenyan Draft Constitution; it is the church and the religious cabal that tilted the balance towards the negation of it. That the politicians took all the credit for themselves in the matter was no new thing and should be an eye opener to the religious leaders.

Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, and other parsonage while at the pulpit retain a form of ‘non-partisan’ moral arbiters; will automatically loose that role once they seek political office. For they will become ‘partisan’ and their influence will considerably diminish. History has it that the church thrives in persecution and grows in martyrdom, while it dies and looses power and authority in luxury and political patronage. Will this be the beginning of the end of the Kenyan Church as it were?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

(Interactive: maichk@yahoo.co.uk)
Kabukuru F. Maina
P.O. Box 5251 - 00506
Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya
East Africa



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