In response to the ongoing government crackdown on errant preachers and institutions in the wake of the Shakahola massacre, churches in Kenya have taken steps to self-regulate.
On Wednesday, religious leaders, legal professionals, and human rights organizations, led by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairman Bishop Emeritus David Oginde, unveiled the Code of Conduct and Governance Guidelines for the Church in Kenya.
Bishop Oginde led a 12-member steering committee that formulated the regulations to keep rogue preachers in check.
The Bishop noted: “This code of conduct is not a weapon but an agreement on what we can do because the danger we have now is that churches can close by being shut down by the government. It has happened before.”
Anglican Church Archbishop Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit added: “Let the congregants hold their leaders accountable. When they see me doing the contrary, let them stand up and say ‘that is not right, we will not agree, and we will not allow you to do that.’”
The Code of Conduct stipulates the following guiding principles and values:
- Integrity and ethical conduct are central to Biblical teaching and practice.
- The church shall uphold and elevate the well-being of its members and society in accordance with Christian beliefs, abstaining from actions that undermine the positive role churches play within the community.
- The church should be committed to respecting, safeguarding, and preserving life, refraining from actions that devalue, dehumanize, or harm life.
- The church shall prioritize upholding the sanctity of life.
- The church, both individually and collectively, shall honor the dignity of every individual, refraining from abusing, exploiting, violating, or diminishing any person.
- Children, both born and unborn, hold immense value for the church, which shall act in their best interest, ensuring their protection while under its care.
- The church should acknowledge and respect the right of each person to choose their faith or religion without facing bullying, harassment, intimidation, or victimization.
Senior Counsel Charles Kanjama, who is also the chair of the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, said: “In the internal forum, you cannot make somebody believe something that they don’t want to believe – you can’t compel them. But at the external forum, when your belief leads you to actions that endanger or harm others, at that point the State can get involved.”
Once signed and adopted, the Code of Conduct for the Church in Kenya will undergo an implementation phase, with the possibility of undergoing subsequent reviews and amendments.