The umbrella body of protestant churches has urged religious leaders to avoid cash donations from politicians ahead of the 2022 General Election.
Local leaders often target places of worship to woo voters during campaigns, particularly those desperate to retain their seats.
While many believers have no problem with legislators supporting development projects in the church, the pulpit has allegedly been used to cleanse ill-gotten money before.
Speaking in Meru town, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) regional boss, Bishop Jediel Kaigongi, said the clergy should not allow places of worship to be turned into political tools.
“All faith leaders in our counties should avoid asking for donations from politicians. When you ask for donations, they take advantage of the sanctuaries and worship meetings to engage in divisive campaigns,” said Bishop Kaigongi during the council’s Upper Eastern committee meeting.
The region covers Isiolo, Marsabit, Meru and Tharaka-Nithi counties.
In 2019, the Catholic and Anglican churches banned cash donations from politicians as it was widely believed such funds were from proceeds of corruption.
“Let us not allow harambee money to become a subtle way of sanitising corrupt leaders,” Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of the Anglican Church said at the time.
Bishop Kaigongi said churches must strive to be independent financially to avoid reliance on politicians for survival.
“Do not allow anyone to stand in a place of worship to speak politics or engage in foul language. The church must remain a sanctuary where all people, regardless of their status in the society, can meet with and worship God,” he warned.
He also urged Kenyans to make independent decisions on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
“Do not be swayed by politicians because they work for their own interests. Do not be bribed to vote one way or the other,” said Bishop Kaigongi as he called on the government to ensure Kenyans are fully involved in the Building Bridges Initiative Bill.
“This regional committee calls upon all Kenyans to maintain peace before, during and after the referendum. No Kenyan should suffer or die because of the referendum,” he said.
At the same time, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya, Joseph Ntombura, has urged Kenyans to maintain peace and make informed decisions as political temperatures rise ahead of the referendum.
Despite the differences between President Kenyatta, ODM Leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, the three could mend fences and work together in future, he said.
“The rising political temperatures should not cause divisions among us, as the rival players are likely to join hands in future. Let’s embrace all politicians,” said Bishop Ntombura during the consecration of Reverend Harrison Mwiti as the new bishop of Miathene Synod at Kianjai Methodist Church.
“Politicians have to wrestle each other; it’s normal. Don’t be surprised to see the president, his deputy president and the ODM leader coming together to agree on how to share the national cake. As far as I know, none of them wants the country to go back to 2007/08,” said Bishop Ntombura.
“Let’s just watch. When they come to our regions, embrace them because we do not know what they might do tomorrow. What is important is that Kenyans shall remain together even after the referendum and the election,” he added.