Funding churches is now more of a political than religious act

Monday May 20 2019

church

A church. Modern churches have become quite ornate and ostentatious, as have their leaders, and far removed from the humility preached in the Bible. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KALTUM GUYO
By KALTUM GUYO
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I won’t claim to be an expert in Christianity but the little I know of it says that tithe is to be used to help in church matters and that includes taking care of the poor.

The frenzy and fanatical way that money is being thrown at churches has all the hallmarks of grand-scale campaigning before the next election. The tithe as I understand, is 10 per cent of your total income. For every million given by the benefactor to the church, it means they will have made Sh10 million that week.

BRAZEN STEALING

It is these crazy figures that are an issue and whether they qualify to be considered tithe in the face of loss of billions of shillings in public funds in the hands of the ruling class.

The argument that politicians equally have the right to enjoy freedom of expressing their religion is somewhat lost in the smoke and mirrors of 2022 politics. Open financial support by politicians for churches, or religion for that matter, is, however, irresponsible in a country grappling with senseless and brazen stealing of public funds and under the cloud of money laundering claims by churches.

Given the level at which we fill up mosques, churches and temples, Kenya should be paradise on earth, where corruption is unheard of and we are all queuing to go to heaven. But the activities of some exploitative ‘prosperity gospel’ churches have raised eyebrows for their greed and thirst for money. They have gained roots not just in Kenya but across Africa and revel in the misery of the congregation by milking them dry.

Politicians do not help matters when they bring the questionable churches closer to the political forum and use them as alternative rogue banks.

The disagreement and differences in how the churches ought to deal with the menace of ‘hired congregants’ in the name of rich politicians just shows how much greed has permeated the society that even churches are now misinterpreting the Bible to suit their financial whims.

Incidentally, countries such as the UK that have the Head of the Church of England (Anglican Communion), who is Queen Elizabeth, in their midst do not show the zeal of entertaining politicians in their churches as we do — a privilege even the British prime minister doesn’t have. Most of our politicians are crying louder than the bereaved in churches not for spiritual reasons but for votes, and that is clear to see.

BEAM SERVICES

Church service is a personal matter. I wonder why we must be subjected to daily shenanigans politicians get up to in churches. I do not believe the media need to beam church services involving politicians or otherwise to our homes every Sunday.

This is a country that offers the right to worship. But that does not mean constant battering of citizens by a religious group through every media available.

These church services are just a means of campaigning and it gives politicians from the Christian faith an unfair advantage by having a platform that they can use throughout the years to up the ante on their campaigns. Such antics do not add value to society. If anything, they help to create divisions and further polarise an already politically fractured nation.

Religion is something that needs to be conducted in a humble and modest way. A simple pop-up church would suffice if the idea is to spread the Word of God. Modern churches have become quite ornate and ostentatious, as have their leaders, and far removed from the humility preached in the Bible.

Most of the money raised in modern prosperity churches seems to go into enriching their leaders and keeping the churches glossier than help to address the plight of the poor who stroll in every Sunday from the slums in search of the elusive miracle to help with their plight.

This is the kind of conmanship that politicians inadvertently support. They need to reflect on whether they are being helpful or damaging to the society by encouraging the insatiable appetite for money that the prosperity churches have.

BLACKOUT

It is rather ridiculous for politicians to suggest that churches have more pressing needs compared to those of dilapidated schools and hospitals that we keep seeing.

It was great to hear the Catholic Church come out to lend their voice to the war on corruption. The other churches that have become beneficiaries of what is becoming illicit funds have lost their tongue through deliberate omission as they indulge in spending money whose sources are questionable.

The media must do more to help in getting coverage of political church services off our screens. It only helps in massaging and boosting the egos of the political participants. The blackout will also help in tackling abuse of the vulnerable financially by the prosperity churches. Most importantly, it will help to tackle corruption and money laundering by firmly sealing one alleged route — churches.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo

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