An East African perspective
IT is official. The clergy of Kenya has declared war on the new constitution. Kenyans must, therefore, brace themselves for a titanic battle to keep their country secular.
The battle may not be on the streets, but it will certainly get there with time, depending on how things go in the next 30 days. With cash dollars allegedly pouring in from evangelical anti-abortionists across the Atlantic, very little is left to our imagination of what will happen next.
For the first time in the history of Kenya, some Christian preachers have chosen to take the moral high ground and delve in a matter that is purely secular.
Their mission is specific. They have vowed to scuttle the new constitution that Kenyans have died and sacrificed for, for the last 30 years just because this new document provides for minority Muslims to enjoy certain cultural and religious rights.
The other falsehood they are peddling to derail the constitution is the clause that explicitly prohibits abortion except in cases where the life of the mother of the unborn child is in grave danger. To them, that exception is an authority for anybody who wants to terminate a pregnancy to do so.
These pastors claim to be talking for millions of their followers. They even claim that when they talk, the entire 20 million of their flock will obey their voices. In other words, to these priests, we are but a mere brainless flock of sheep that cannot think except with guidance from some pastor.
In matters of religion or any body of knowledge, science and technology have simplified many things for believers and non believers of the 21st century. In this day and age, any information I want is at my fingertips, on my computer.
I, therefore, chose to consult Wikipedia and my good old Webster dictionary to be educated on the meaning of the Church. I wanted to know who or what the church really is; whether it is the clergy, the congregation or both. And if either, who had control over the other. In other words, between me and my pastor, who depends on who for a living or the survival of that particular church?
In trying to understand the meaning of the church, Wikipedia informed me that the Christian church which in Greek means a thing belonging to the Lord or an assembly in Latin, is actually used to describe an association of people of faith and their place of worship. And the world is full of such associations or assemblies that call themselves the body of Christ.
In the New Testament, the term church or assembly is used to mean a local community of worshippers and in a universal sense, it means all believers in Christ.
The first reference to the term church is found in the gospel according to St.Mathew 16:18, where Jesus is quoted to have said to Simon Peter â€œ... and upon this rock I will build my churchâ€.
With this pronouncement, Christ inaugurated a faith-based entity that has evolved into what we now know as the church, the House of the Lord, the Lordâ€™s congregation or the whole body of the faithful of Christ. If this is the case, then what authority do these pastors, mere believers just like the congregation, have over their so called voting flock? At what point did Jesus Christ give explicit powers to our pastors to have absolute authority over us? What constitutes a church in the minds of our latter day men of cloth? Is it the building, place of worship or the congregation?
Assuming that they were anointed by the founder of the Christian church to guide us on matters that are secular in our lives like the constitution, have they consulted us ordinary believers before taking a stand on such an important issue? When they decide to be confrontational in local politics, are they doing so on our behalf or on their behalf? Has the Christian pastor in Kenya faithfully followed the teachings of Christ or does he have a version of the Bible that serves his vested interests?
Now that pastors have declared war against Kenyaâ€™s proposed constitution, will the men of cloth manage the violent political campaign that Kenya is known for? If violence breaks out in churches and mosques, will we still look up to the clergy to calm things down?
If they start preaching hatred against the Committee of Experts and institutions of government in their pulpits throughout the country for the next 30 days, what will stop Muslim clerics from preaching against Christians in mosques all over the country? Are these pastors advertently stoking the fires of civil strife in Kenya?
As a good Christian that I am, this is the first time I must differ with my pastor and tell him to his face that he is wrong and that I will, this time, follow my conscience. I will vote â€˜yesâ€™ for my countryâ€™s new constitution.