Sapit takes on corrupt politicians using pulpits to sanitize money
Church donations by politicians have sparked debate as pressure mounts on religious leaders to reject ‘dirty money’.
Yesterday, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit waded into the debate when he announced that the Church will review donations by political leaders.
Speaking at a media briefing by the Multi-Sectoral Initiative Against Corruption, Sapit spoke against using pulpits to ‘clean’ stolen money in the guise of charitable donations.
“Let us not allow harambee money to become a subtle way of sanitising corrupt leaders,” said Sapit during the initiative that is hosted by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.
The Archbishop said giving should be done quietly as it is a form of worship. He promised to mobilise all Anglican clergy, faithful and people of goodwill to fight corruption.
“Christians, including politicians, are expected to worship God with their resources quietly as the Bible teaches. Bishops and Christians should hold fundraisers outside church buildings,” he said.
Sapit also warned politicians who are undermining the war against corruption.
“State institutions mandated to fight corruption are deliberately being undermined, discredited, neglected or underfunded to weaken them. As Kenyans and God’s children, we must say no to those undermining those institutions and putting blocks against the war on corruption.”
The Archbishop urged the clergy to inculcate the value of hard work as the only means to wealth accumulation.
“Corruption is a cancerous bondage that has deeply penetrated the core of leadership and found safe havens in national and county governments, Judiciary, Legislature, private sector, civil institutions, media and religious institutions,” said Sapit.
Kisumu Catholic Archbishop Philip Anyolo also said they had banned politicians from using their churches for fundraising or any other functions.
“Our altars are purely for worship and fellowship. We will give a comprehensive statement on this matter on May 7 but that is our stand now,” said Anyolo.
Christ is the Answer Ministries Bishop David Oginde said many politicians attended the church’s various branches but the general practice was never to give them an opportunity to politic.
“I agree with him (Sapit). The church is a place for worship and not for political gymnastics,” said Bishop Oginde.
But in response to Sapit, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen dared churches to do away with all contributions.
“It will be great to see churches ban all harambees. It will be even greater to see them ban sinners from contributing tithes and offerings. May be then we shall truly say we are in Caanan or better still heaven on earth,” said Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen.
He added: “I don’t know of any person, including leaders, who invite themselves to any harambee. Of all the invitations we get, we honour less than 10 per cent. If a particular church can ban harambees, they will help save many people.
“The goal of every church should be self-sustainability and like the missionaries did, they should give to the needy in society. I welcome any move that will enable churches to vet their membership so that they can receive donations only from holy members.”
Didmus Barasa (Kimilili) and Hillary Kosgei (Kipkelion West), who are also allied to Deputy President William Ruto, said the church was the last place where sinners should be condemned.
“The pronouncements are misplaced. No one goes to church to donate by force, and you can’t limit what one wants to donate because it is based on free will,” said Mr Barasa.
Mr Kosgey gave the biblical analogy of the adulterous woman who Jesus defended from stoning. “The church should be the last place where a sinner is condemned. The preachers should read the Bible.”
Dr Ruto has previously said he is not ashamed of donating generously to the church.
“I know there are charges against me for helping Christians. I plead guilty to the charges so there is no requirement of witnesses. I am not ashamed of my faith,” he said during a recent church function.
Last weekend, ODM leader Raila Odinga said the Church was being used by politicians to launder money.
“Some church leaders are true to their calling; others are not. We need to ask about the source of millions being taken to churches. We need to ask, ‘if someone’s salary is Sh1 million a month, where do they get Sh5 million each week or between Sh15 and Sh20 million a month to hold fundraisers in churches’?” said Raila.
Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula also waded into the matter.
“I congratulate Archbishop Sapit for showing leadership in this important subject. I urge the other churches to emulate the ACK leadership. All the resources belong to God and he doesn’t need corruption-tainted money to further his purposes on earth,” said Kalonzo.
Wetang’ula said some politicians had turned churches into campaign grounds where they loudly announced their donations.
“Turning political donations into a political tool is what I am opposed to. You cannot go to church with the media in tow and announce that you have donated so many millions. Let them donate quietly.”
Former Starehe MP Margaret Wanjiru was guarded about the matter, stating that what mattered were the motives in the politicians’ hearts.
“We need to separate good politics from bad politics. If a person is promoting unity, development and biblical principles, then they should be welcomed to the pulpit,” said Wanjiru, who is the bishop of Jesus Is Alive Ministries.
Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said churches should be respected just like Jesus Christ ordered.
“The house of the Lord shall not be used for other businesses other than worship. Remember Jesus whipped people who were doing business in the temple,” Mr Maanzo said.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga supported the move to kick politicians from the pulpit.
“The church should be a place to talk about social issues, such as giving advice to the youth who are currently in the news everyday due to relationships gone wrong, and not politics about 2022.”
Tetu MP James Gichuhi said: “Churches should not ban politicians from the pulpit. There can be no church without political stability. This is because religion and morality offer indispensable support to political prosperity. Our Constitution is an outgrowth of the biblical concept of covenant and derives much of its form and content from Judeo-Christian traditions as interpreted by radical Protestants.”