NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 16 – The President and other State officers will continue to take their oaths of office using the Bible after the High Court dismissed a petition challenging the practice.
David Gitahi, the Chairman of the Othaya Residents’ Foundation, had sought to stop the use of the Bible for swearing-in at public institutions but Justice David Majanja dismissed his petition for the reason that the petitioner failed to show which provisions of law it violated.
“The petitioner’s case is not founded on the Constitution or any law. The petitioner has not referred to any Article of the Constitution that has been violated or any law that has been breached,” Majanja adjudged.
Gitahi based his case on eight portions of scripture including James 5:12 and Matthew 5:34-37 which states, according the New International Version: “But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Gitahi, who was not represented by counsel, told the court that he had been sent by God to deal with the spiritual matters affecting the country.
“The President as a servant chosen by God and for the purpose of God having compromised in some areas, on behalf of himself and the country he must repent for oath has no compromise. God is not a respecter of persons,” he submitted citing Romans 2: 11-12 which states: “For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.”
But Majanja ruled that the court had no business weighing in on spiritual matters.
“The Court is not competent to make judgments on the religious suitability of taking an oath on the Bible and the spiritual consequences of doing so unless such a requirement is a breach of the Constitution or the law. The petition must therefore fail on this ground,” he said.
Majanja continued to state that should a person feel that using the Bible to take their oath of office went against their spiritual beliefs, they had the option of making a solemn affirmation.
“Every person has a choice whether in fact he or she should be sworn. Section 15 (Oaths and Statutory Declarations Act) provides that,
‘Every person upon objecting to being sworn, and stating the ground of such objection, either that he has no religious beliefs or that the taking of the oath is contrary to his religious belief shall be permitted to make his solemn affirmation instead of taking an oath in all places and for all purposes where an oath is required by law, which affirmation shall be of the same effect as if he had taken an oath,’” he quoted.
Before taking his oath of office on April 4, 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta insisted that his wife, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, hold the Bible for him.