, NAIROBI July 26 – Two renowned Kenyan clerics supporting the proposed Constitution are now challenging fellow church leaders who have been rallying against it to a public intellectual contest next Sunday.
Retired archbishop David Gitari and Presbyterian bishop Timothy Njoya told a news conference on Sunday that they are prepared to face off with their counterparts in the No team “because they are misleading their followers.”
“I will be prepared to come here for a debate, and I think that debate is essential because it will be only a few days from the referendum,” Archbishop Gitari said. “If they refuse to come then we will know that they are cowards.”
“Let them come and meet the best theologians in the world.”
The two clerics accused their counterparts of failing to discuss real issues in the on-going national campaigns and instead choosing to “just mislead their followers on controversial clauses.”
“I welcome the idea of having a debate with all those theologians, we need to engage in a theological thorough debate about the issues they are raising about abortion and Kadhis’ courts,” Rev Njoya said.
“I know some of them (clerics) are genuine, but most of them are bogus, let them come so that we can talk about real issues,” he said.
Reverend Njoya even questioned the credibility of some of the clerics he termed ‘charlatans’ claiming that they had not been to a theology school.
“Of course how can them explain how they become doctors, some of them are just Form 2 and class eight leavers, how did they become doctors, I pity and pray for them,” Rev Njoya added.
Church leaders in various mainstream and other churches have been in the forefront opposing the proposed Constitution on grounds that it supports abortion which they say is against Christian believes.
“They are not talking about real issues, they are not saying the truth because they have not read and understood what that document says. The proposed Constitution is very clear that abortion will only take place if the live of a mother is in danger, that does not mean it supports abortion,” Rev Njoya emphasised.
The two clerics were speaking at a joint press conference with various civil societies under the umbrella of Katiba Sasa Campaign; a consortium of lobby groups championing for the enactment of a new constitutional dispensation in the country.
They however did not mention the names of the clerics they were targeting in the debate.
Officials of the Katiba Sasa campaign did not immediately confirm if they were willing to organise the said intellectual contest between the clerics.
Campaigns for the proposed Constitution are in top gear in the country, with only nine days to go. Kenyans are scheduled to vote for or against the proposed constitution on August 4 to determine if the east African nation will have a new Constitution.
President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga as well as Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and most cabinet ministers and political leaders are supporting the proposed Constitution which is being opposed by most church leaders.
Higher Education Minster William Ruto and most Members of Parliament from the Rift Valley Province have openly defied President Kibaki’s call to support the draft and are intensely campaigning against the proposed law.