A contentious debate on whether churches should be allowed to accept monetary proceeds from politicians have pitied churches against each other in Kenya.
There have been concerns about churches receiving money said to be proceeds of corruption and money laundering during fundraisers.
In July last year, Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit of the Anglican Church of Kenya received Sh8 million cash donation from the Deputy President William Ruto, with a further pledge of another Sh2 million. The Harambee was held at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. It was for the purpose of building a children’s centre at the church.
In the wake of that, opposition leader Raila Odinga hit out at corrupt leaders for turning churches into avenues of laundering money obtained illegally from public coffers.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka also cautioned clerics against accepting money suspected to be proceeds of corruption, claiming some politicians could be using the church to ‘sanitise’ the money they could have stolen from public coffers.
It is against this milieu that Archbishop Sapit brought the debate to the fore when he declared:
“If you are to come to worship, come with your resources. And let us, as the church, also learn to mobilise resources for our development agenda and do it quietly, not with the hype that takes us off the pulpit. Let us not allow harambee money to become a subtle way of sanitising corrupt leaders.”
The primate decried what he termed the “hype” with which the clergy received money from politicians. He said the church should “learn to worship God with its resources, quietly”.
He also added that the Anglican Church will also rethink the matter of letting politicians hold fundraisers in sanctuaries.
Albeit, Bomet Central MP Ronald Tonui accused Archbishop Sapit, of engaging in doublespeak by banning monetary contributions from some politicians while continuing to receive the same from others.
“At the weekend, we all witnessed the Anglican Church hosting a section of politicians, some of whom are known for running down institutions while others are accused of drug trafficking, theft of public funds, land grabbing and all manner of ills,” Mr Tonui said.
“When the Church leadership says it would not receive money and other forms of support, then a few days later goes ahead to host and receive donations from leaders of questionable character, is that not doublespeak?”
The while, a section of evangelical preachers sees nothing wrong with getting donations from politicians and has however vowed to continue accepting money from them.
Under the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the group said it is unfortunate that of politicians donating funds at church harambees have been politicised yet politicians have played a huge role in the development of many churches across the country.
Bishop Kepha Omae, presiding Bishop of Redeemed Gospel Church, said churches should not be blamed in any way when they accept politicians’ contributions, saying they do not have mechanisms to determine the source of wealth.
The bishop added that politicians should be allowed to continue supporting churches through fundraisers like other members of the public.
“We have no right to ask you where you get your money. Let us not politicise the issue as politicians have helped build many churches in the country. Do we ask our congregants where they have got their money from when they pay tithes and even give offerings?” posed Bishop Omae.
Bishop Timothy Gichere of the Anglican church also openly defied his head, Archbishop Sapit. He said churches would continue receiving the money until the courts declared the politicians corrupt and that no one should label or condemn others as corrupt as one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“When leaders come to church and contribute money with clean hearts, we can’t decline because we are not in a position to know if the money is from corruption. We are not there to rebuke and label people as corrupt because that is the obligation of the courts. Let the judicial process go on without the politicisation of the war on graft so the culprits are arrested and charged,” he said.
Bishop Paul Githinji of the New Life Church also reacted to the controversy, saying that money from politicians is not the only money churches should be wary of.
According to him, money from prostitutes, brothel keepers, thugs and thieves also end up in churches.
“All the money that is brought into the church comes from prostitutes, brothels, thugs and thieves,” he argued.
While he did not necessarily rule out churches receiving money gifts from outsiders, the bishop came up with an unorthodox suggestion to have servants of God ‘purify’ the money before use.
“The servants of God should receive it and before you use it, should be sanctified. I also want to request the people coming up with this kind of agenda to come out. If there are people who are known to be corrupt, I would like to see them standing on the dock.”
Bishop Paul Githinj ~We need a special machine to detect dirty money. The money offered in churches is from prostitutes, brothel keepers , thugs, holy angels and that is why servants of God should sanctify the money before using it. #TheDailyBrief with @shikshaarora_ pic.twitter.com/5dbjoCejnM
— K24 TV (@K24Tv) April 29, 2019
As calls for a more vicious fight against corruption reach a crescendo in Kenya, the church is finding itself in an awkward situation, with constant accusations that it is supporting the vice.
Meanwhile, several legislators around Kenya had vowed to continue dishing out money to the Church. They include Ms Catherine Waruguru, Mr Oscar Sudi, Mr Caleb Kositany, Mr Robert Pukose, Mr Swarup Mishra, Ms Aisha Jumwa and Mr Hillary Kosgey.
Speaking in Cherangany during a funds drive for 15 local churches, they said those not ready to support the Church should ‘shut up’.
“The money we’re donating to the Church is clean, and if you fight the Church you are lost,” Mr Sudi said.
Hallelujah Magazine is committed to publishing reliable, trusted, quality and independent Christian journalism. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and is not influenced by wealthy people, politicians, clerics or shareholders. We value our readers’ feedback, suggestions, and opinions. Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments section below.