If you want to pick a fight, engage in thoughtful discourse on sex, politics or religion. That, it seems, to be the three main reasons Kenyans are ever at loggerheads with each other on social media platforms. But, this past week, a 'Pastor' went out of his way to ensure that the collective Christian community was tarred with one very odious brush.
Generally we are very accepting of the snake-oil salesmen who pass themselves off as men of the cloth. We forgave, or forgot about, that dodgy pastor who paid hookers to proffer testimonies of healing powers in his church. We forgave, or forgot about, that pastor who was engaged in a lurid love affair while he was married. We forgave the two Catholic priests who accused each other of attempted murder, though it is the one with the firearm that seemed to have gotten the short end of the legal stick. But this charlatan, on air (apparently he has a TV show), decided in his sick, twisted, perverted mind to parade an HIV positive child naked on TV, revealing the child's nakedness to the congregation and the world as well as his no-longer-fatal condition.
Many have called out the agents of the State to take action. They will most likely be disappointed. If the Director of Public Prosecutions has seen fit to maintain his usual stoic silence in the face of national infamy, you can be assured that the prosecutors in his office are equally silent and equally stoic. If the boss is going to sit on his hands then by God so are they. There will be no flashes of independent thinking out of the automatons in the Office of the DPP. The same, it seems, applies to the Inspector-general of Police and his troops, the mandarins of the Children Department, the fire-breathing Secretary-General of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, Canon Peter Karanja (perhaps it is only politics that will get him to pontificate on TV), or the Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue, or the Cabinet Secretaries and their Principal Secretaries in the Interior Ministry or Social Services Ministry. For all the promises made by politicians, their acolytes and godmen in Kenya, we are well and truly on our own.
What has not been highlighted, especially given the explosion of fly-by-night religious operations in the past decade, is that the Church of Christ, and the Church that man built, are two very different things. In Christ's vision of His Church, the weak and the downtrodden would find solace; faith would move mountains; the wealthy would share with their fellowman; everyone would play their proper roles in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Church that man built, however, is a dog-eat-dog world; Darwinian Natural Selection applies. The strong survive; the weak are carrion for the vultures of society. This particular pastor is just one among thousands preying on the vulnerable amongst us with impunity.
But his impunity is not surprising. Church has become business. If you want an easy source of income, and if you demonstrate a facility with reading and interpreting complex texts into simplistic messages, the pulpit is for you. All you need, it seems, is forgo your humanity and millions of shillings shall be yours. We, the congregations of Kenya, have allowed this to happen, because we have been seduced and have succumbed to the lure of the filthy lucre we see being flashed about by the lesser mortals of the political class. The wheel has turned and we are never going back to the less-complicated days when there were the established churches and the recognised independent churches. We find ourselves in an era where if the church does not fleece you it will be ruined and it is your duty to allow the church to steal from you down to your last morsel of food.