, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has formally declared its opposition to the draft Constitution, ending weeks of speculation that it would break ranks with other churches.
After a day-long meeting, the House of Bishops (ACK’s top organ), said it could not endorse a draft that fails to protect the life of the unborn and which favours one religion by including Kadhis courts.
“We say No to the proposed Constitution as it is, unless amendments are made before the referendum,” said Dean of Bishops Stephen Njehia who read part of the statement at the All Saints Cathedral.
The church is demanding “justice and equality for all religions, the limitation of fundamental rights based on religion, the protection of right to life and the supremacy of our constitution in the right of international conventions and treaties.”
“The ACK holds life, morality and justice as the fundamentals of the conduct of the society and this must also guide the process and content of the Constitution,” said Bishop Njenga.
The meeting was chaired by Archbishop Eliud Wabukhala who has been out of the country as debate on the issue raged. The prelate urged Kenyans for sobriety and tolerance as the country gears for the referendum.
“We (bishops) are like prophets and if we see something wrong our work is to alert you (Kenyans). It is the responsibility of the citizens to evaluate it,” Archbishop Wabukhala said.
The statement comes barely a day after consensus building talks between Church leaders and the State collapsed after the Cabinet ruled out amendments before the referendum.
The State had asked the church to endorse the draft as it is then pursue amendments later through the popular vote route which requires them to collect a million signatures,. This would then be followed by a referendum. Church leaders have however remained adamant and declared on Wednesday that they would now concentrate on mobilising the faithful to reject the new law at the August referendum.
“The strategy we will apply is doing civic education and requesting for prayers from our Christians,” said Archbishop Wabukhala.
The statement by the bishops is contrary to the position held by retired Archbishop David Gitari who earlier in the month urged the Church to endorse the draft despite its “apparent” flaws since it is a big improvement to the current Constitution.
“We pray that God gives Kenyans the grace to make the right decision and thereafter live together in unity,” said Bishop Njehia as he ended the statement.