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Tuesday September 1, 2020 – Major divisions have rocked the church in Kenya over the push to amend the Constitution through BBI as Deputy President William Ruto plots an anti-referendum showdown.

Unlike the 2010 constitutional referendum when the church united to campaign against it, religious leaders are currently reading from different hymn sheets.

Their differences are likely to trigger a groundswell of confusion among their followers.

The Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian church, has already sent signals that it could oppose a plebiscite, saying it could be divisive, expensive and wasteful.

“Any self-serving short-term proposals having the interests of just a few privileged and highly placed individuals must be rejected,” the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops said on Sunday.

However, the Anglican Church of Kenya, one of the biggest Protestant churches with a loud voice in the country’s reform agenda, said it was time to amend the Constitution.

“There is need to relook at our Constitution, see what has worked for us, isolate particular areas that did not serve us well, look at the areas we have watered down like Chapter Six [on integrity] and tighten it so we have an opportunity of electing leaders who have integrity,” said ACK Archbishop, Jackson Ole Sapit.

According to Sapit, Kenyans should not fear a referendum on grounds that it will create acrimony and divisions while it addresses the shortcomings of the 2010 Constitution.

“I think it is high time we evaluate the Constitution and then change [it]. I know the fear of many people for a referendum at this time is the fear of acrimony and division. But already we have elections that always cause divisions in Kenya,” he said.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya has indicated it would support a referendum but warned the process must be “people-focused”.

 “We urge the Constitution review process be formalised, structured and anchored in law.”

“Adequate civic education should be provided so Kenyans across the country understand the referendum questions and make informed choices,” NCCK said in a statement.

The NCCK wants a referendum to create an inclusive system of Government and a vibrant and dignified opposition to hold the Government to account.

Bishop Mark Kariuki, the head of Deliverance Church of Kenya and former chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, warned against the clamour to expand the Executive, saying it will be rejected.

Religious organisations play a critical role in society, not only in spiritual nourishment but also in greatly influencing the choices their faithful make.


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