Pheroze Nowrojee - Churches living in self-delusion - The Star

“We knew we would lose, but we were performing our 'prophetic' role," say the Church leaders.

The Churches must not flatter themselves. The Church's prophetic role is to interpret the will of God. What they were doing was not that. They were interpreting the will of men. Specifically, that of one, a legal draftsman. They were interpreting a constitutional draft. Lawyers call that statutory interpretation.

Lawyers do not interpret the Bible by the rules of statutory interpretation. They would get it wrong. Churchmen, similarly, should not have interpreted statute by the rules of Biblical interpretation. They did get it wrong. Those words, for example, do not mean that same-sex marriages are permitted.

Nor can they claim that they only acted as they did after great soul-searching and long and earnest prayer, through which God showed them the direction. This alibi failed long ago.

During the Indian freedom struggle against the British, Gandhi on being told that the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, always prayed to God before taking any major decision, once remarked, "What a pity God gives him such bad advice."

If the Churchmen thought bad judges would interpret the new provisions badly, then the best protection was to support the new Constitution because it provided for a way to vet out 'bad judges'.

If inert words of the new constitution on paper, "will," as the Churches say, "foster moral decadence and dehumanise Kenyan society", it is an admission by them, the custodians of Kenya's morals, that their ministry over the last hundred years has not been successful; and that they are helpless to prevent this decadent decline in the future.

The sad truth is the Churches came out to play politics on the constitutional field. They used every political trick they thought politicians use: they cosied up to dubious churchmen, they cosied up to dubious politicians, they cosied up to dubious money, they cosied up to dubious versions of the 'truth'. They bought hugely expensive prime time television advertisements, they went back on their word, they were unrestrained in their language, they encouraged fronts like 'Religious Professionals' to lie on their behalf, they committed many, many fouls. Yet, they lost the game. Badly : 6-3.

No wonder they are angry at the referee, the people of Kenya. And are shouting at them. (See The Standard, 9 August 2010.) Exactly, like the World Cup players who shouted at the referee after the match that exited them. The result of the Referendum on August 5 was for Kenya even better than the World Cup result was for Spain. Spain and Kenya have not stopped celebrating since their respective results.

The Churches also claimed that the Committee of Experts was wrong and had not reflected the will of the people of Kenya. Intellectual honesty requires that the Church leaders now acknowledge publicly that it is the Committee of Experts that reflected the will of the people correctly, and that they, the Church leaders, got it wrong.

There were only two reasons that the Churches irresponsible actions did not cause more harm to Kenya. The first is that many worshippers saw through them. The flock politely disregarded the Churchmen's threats. It made its own political decisions. It voted with quiet, but emphatic, confidence.

The second reason is that others in the faiths world, and in politics, acted extremely responsibly, so much more responsibly than these Church leaders. No wonder a poll a few days ago showed that Kenyans now trust politicians more than they trust the Church. One cannot get any lower than that. The Churches ought to be concerned.

Come to think of it, many World Cup teams sacked their managers after their loss. Maybe, the Kenyan church also needs a change of managers ?

Or maybe, the Church and its losing politician team mates are planning to ask FIFA to move amendments to the results. They may want FIFA to take into account all the goals all the losing sides scored, which are of course more than Spain scored in total, and give half of Spain's trophy to the 35 losers?

After all, they tell us we cannot ignore those who lost if they are so numerous. But we remember that when Moi won his presidential elections with only 38 per cent in 1992, and only 40 per cent in 1997, (minority presidencies, if ever), Gideon Moi, Nick Salat, Joseph Kimkung, William Ruto and the Kalenjin Elders all failed to ask Moi to share the government with the numerous 60 per cent who had lost.

The writer is a lawyer.

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