NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN KENYA (NCCK) SUPPORTS CALLS TO GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE FIREARMS TO CHURCHES
Swords into ploughshears… spears into pruning hooks?
The National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK) has backed calls to the government to arm local church leaders owing to the rise of attacks on churches and murders targeting pastors especially in the coastal region.
The most recent murders happened just over a week ago when pastors from southern coastal towns were killed in separate incidents.
Pastor Ibrahim Kithaka was killed on Sunday 20 October and his body discovered in a thicket near Madamani trading centre in Vitengeni. The day before, Pastor Charles Mathole of the Redeemed Gospel Church in Mtopanga was shot dead as get prepared his Sunday sermon. (See ‘Protests as second pastor killed’, Daily Nation).
“EVERY CHURCH SHOULD HAVE AN AK47”
The calls to the government to provide AK47 rifles for churches was made over the weekend during the funeral of Pastor Mathole at the Redeemed Church. “Every church should be provided with an AK-47 to prevent our churches from being torched, our property from being looted, and Christians and our pastors from being killed,” a clergyman was caught remarking on camera during the funeral.
The statement made headlines instantaneously with Kenyans expressing mixed reactions on the matter. Muslim leaders and clergymen from the Anglican Church of Kenya warned that arming priests isn’t the solution and insist it’s the government’s job to provide security.
However, the NCCK stated in a joint press briefing that, “It is the clergy’s rights to be given firearms in conformity to the Kenyan Law”.
RELIGIOUS TENSIONS RISING
Religious tensions have been rising in Kenya in the wake of constant terror threats and attacks that have hit the country perpetrated by the Islamic militia group Al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab and the situation is grave in the coastal area where Christians have been bearing the wrath of Islamic extremism.
Early this month, a Salvation Army Church was set on fire by rioting Islamic youths following the drive-by shooting of Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Ishmael, the successor to Aboud Rogo Mohammed, the controversial preacher linked to Al -Shabaab terrorists, who was assassinated in August 2012 in a similar drive-by shooting that also sparked retaliatory attacks on churches (read more).
WHAT WOULD HE SAY?
The police department responded to the clergies’ request by stating that they would make the process of acquiring firearms easier.
The Kenya Forum has great reservations over this issue. We believe that in the vast majority of cases different religions and denominations within religions in Kenya co-exist in great harmony. Let’s not be panicked into an overreaction to the actions of a handful of extremists and criminals.
And we pose this question: if He was to issue a statement on this matter today, do you think it would include a call to arms, or a call for peace?