The Star (Nairobi)

17 December 2012

Kenya: Priests Warned Not to Take Sides in Election Campaigns

Mt Kenya Central Diocese Bishop Isaac Nganga has warned priests not to take sides in politics during the election period.

Bishop Isaac Nganga also expressed disappointment that some clergy men are also threatening to excommunicate some members if they do not support the candidates the priests are backing in the March 4 General Election.

Speaking during a ordination ceremony at St James Murang'a ACK church, Nganga said several cases of priests drumming support for aspirants to political seats have been reported.

He said it was wrong for men of cloth to openly declare support for any candidate adding that they should give the believers a free hand in electing the people of their choice.

"I am told that some priest have asked some christians to stop taking the holy sacrament if they don't support a particular candidate," said the Bishop amidst laughter from the hundreds of worshipers who had attended the ceremony.

Nganga said intimidating the faithful is a sin and such clergymen should be defrocked immediately. "I want to warn the entire priesthood that the church will not also allow any one of you to force a candidate on the believers because this is against their democratic rights," he added.

He said the church has no preferred candidate in any particular seat adding that voters are free to elect people of their choice without fear or intimidation.

The Bishop also said the priests should also not use the pulpit to voice support for any politician and asked them instead to preach peace ahead of the next general election to avert chaos witnessed after the disputed 2007 elections.

"If you are found using the pulpit to campaign for any politician who will face the consequence," warned Nganga. Speaking separately Mathioya Mp Clement Wambugu has also condemned cases of church leaders favouring certain candidates.

Wambugu, who expressed his disappointment over an unnamed AIPCEA priest for endorsing his rival for Mathioya parliamentary seat, said it was wrong for church to take sides in politics.

"I am disappointed that a preacher can use the church platform to ask the christians to rally behind a certain candidate," he added.

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