The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Diocese of Murang’a South has banned politicians from addressing congregants following the disruption of church service on Sunday last week when Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wa Muchomba was booed by people said to be supporters of Kandara MP Alice Wahome.
Bishop Julius Karanu, who is in charge of the diocese, told the Nation that the parish priest of the ACK Mairungi Church has also been summoned to explain the incident that led to the church being unruly, promising to take action should it be found that he could have averted the “embarrassing scenario”.
Bishop Karanu condemned the incident, saying that the political class should observe decorum while in church, adding that since the priests cannot know what the politicians will say, they will now not be allowed to speak inside the church and will instead address the faithful after service away from the church.
“The Anglican Church is guided by statutes and we feel that by disregarding the church norms, the move may discourage Christians who may have come to the church expectant of blessings and encouragement. To prevent a repeat of what happened on Sunday, I have directed that no politician will be given airtime in church and if they must address the faithful, let them do so outside the church when the service is over,” the bishop said.
The spiritual leader, who is in charge of ACK churches in Murang’a South which includes those in Kandara and Maragua constituencies, said Ms Wa Muchomba’s utterances which triggered the acrimony were uncalled for as she misused the airtime given to her to address the congregants.
“The woman representative chose to respond to Kandara MP Alice Wahome over an issue she allegedly talked about while in Kiambu County where the church followers were not present and this is abuse of an opportunity since it was the wrong forum to respond to the MP.
“The women representative can also be heard insisting to continue addressing the congregants even after the acrimony, making the church ungovernable to a point of police officers intervening to restore order in a house of prayer. It is too unfortunate and we regret the incident,” Bishop Karanu added.
The bishop’s directive has elicited mixed reactions among locals with some supporting him while others fearing that it may discourage the politicians from visiting the church.
Mr John Kamau an elder from Kenol town said the directive was long overdue as politicians have taken advantage of their position to misuse the pulpit.
“The political class had reduced a house of prayer into a political arena and the bishop’s directive will restore order and sanity in our churches. We hope and pray that other churches can follow suit and guide their priests accordingly,” Mr Kamau said.
But Alice Wanjiru a member of the ACK church from Gatanga said the move, however good, could make politicians keep off the church to the detriment of members especially during fundraisers.
“Although they misuse the pulpit, they contribute immensely during fundraisers,” she said.