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Citizen Weekly

Thursday, 23 October 2014

RAILA, KALONZO MEETS RELIGIOUS LEADERS OVER REFERENDUM



Leaders from seven Christian churches on Thursday met Cord and Okoa Kenya Movement officials to discuss issues they would like addressed in the proposed referendum.
Bishops Boniface Adoyo, John Obonyo, Jonathan Soi, Ochenge Masak and Philip Ngetich, and Reverends Bernard Amianda and Japheth Koech held talks with Cord's Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Okoa Kenya Committee of Experts chairman Paul Mwangi.
The church leaders presented a memorandum calling for the creation of a Christian regulatory commission mandated to pursue the needs of Kenya's Christian community.
“It is advisable to give the Christian community a commission with requisite judicial roles that can mitigate specific cases that relate to Christian faith and do not necessarily need to be taken to public courts,” the church leaders said.
The commission, the church leaders also said, would vet prospective churches, register and regulate them.
The church leaders want the constitution to create an equivalent of the Kadhi’s Court to handle issues affecting Christians.
Presenting the memorandum, Bishop Adoyo said a number of laws with direct impacts on Christian bylaws and belief systems are coming up in Parliament.
“The enactment of laws that touch on Christianity in the absence of a regulatory consent from the churches will ultimately strain interactions between the Church and the government of Kenya,” the leaders' said in the memorandum.
He gave Marriage Act (2014) as an example.
They leaders expressed concern over a new requirement that they pay before being allowed to conduct marriages. They said that pastors marry people on behalf of the State and find it strange that they are being taxed for it.
In response, Raila, Cord leader, urged the religious leaders to speak out against the ills in Kenya and not fear raising issues they feel should be tackled in the proposed referendum.
“All we are interested in is a good constitution. So let us walk together. This country needs healing and good laws can ensure that. Moving on without healing will not work,” Raila said.
Kalonzo asked the leaders to fight tribalism and exclusion in particular.
The church leaders appealed for a categorical ban on abortion, whose case they said have increased. Kalonzo said some of the cases could be as a result of the "despair and uncertainties" Kenyans are facing.
The leaders agreed to continue consulting on the matter. The committee of experts said the church leaders should expect a proposal on how the issues will be captured in the proposed amendment in about two weeks.