Speaking at the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya National Convention 2022, held at Nairobi Baptist Church, Ruto called on the church to declare its political stand given that governance was a collective responsibility for all Kenyans.
He explained that the church had been tasked with providing the moral compass for masses and should use its influence to ensure that the right leaders are elected.
“The influence of the religious institutions is very important and they must have a stake in the Republic of Kenya. I am happy that it has begun to realise that they can no longer remain neutral. The church must take sides.
“Religion and education must be centralised in making sure that we are a country that has a moral compass. The church must step forward, they cannot continue to be in a neutral place. It has the opportunity to install a government instead of waiting for others to come and install it for you,” he added.
DP Ruto added that many a time, the church has issues with the government and how the state is run but shies away from sharing its opinion. He called on the religious leaders to get involved in forming the next government or suffer at the hands of poor leaders.
“The punishment of those who do not vote or who do not get involved in matters politics is to be ruled by the foolish,” he stated.
His remarks sparked an immediate interjection from his host, an evangelist, who clarified that the church was unbiased about national values and remains apolitical.
“One thing I can assure you is that the church is not neutral on values but on candidates, that I can say without fear of contradiction,” the interviewer jumped in.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential hopeful recounted how much he had been persecuted for taking sides and maintaining his ground on his beliefs citing his opponents poking holes into his generous donations to churches.
Ruto added that his fellow evangelists then strongly discouraged him from joining politics, opining that it was a reserve for those who did not believe in God. They even laid their hands on him – he added.
“The first time I thought of being a politician, my evangelistic team wanted to lay hands on me. People believe in the narrative that politics is a dirty game, but the bible says God chooses leaders. It cannot be that God is involved in dirty stuff,” he posed.
The church, which tends to shun active politics, has previously taken a firm position on matters of national interest, such as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya presidential aspirant Raila Odinga has in the recent past asked religious leaders to keep off politics.
The Church has remained a crucial voice in Kenyan politics. During the clamour for multi-partism in the 1990s, clergymen were on the forefront, challenging the late President Daniel Moi’s leadership.
Notable names at the time included Reverend Timothy Njoya who still bears the scars of that struggle, the late Archbishop Ndingi Mwana Nzeki of the Catholic Church and the late Archbishop David Gitari of the Anglican Church.
The modern church has been accused of being lukewarm and remaining silent in keeping the government in check.