FIGHTING THE PANDEMIC

Clerics have a role in Covid-19 war

It should not be lost on us that the essence of religion, among other functions, is to provide social-cohesion and control, and to maintain society in social-solidarity.

In Summary

• Religious leaders occupy unique positions of moral influence and should be part of the solution whenever the country is confronted with challenges.

• Clerics should encourage politicians to subject themselves to scrutiny on how they have managed power and public resources in the management of the pandemic.

Clerics have a role in Covid-19 war
Clerics have a role in Covid-19 war
Image: OZONE

Kenya was founded on the crest of obedience and patriotism. The result of our religious foundation is testament in the actions of our forefathers. They bequeathed us a nation of morals, discipline and hard work.

They prayed to God to bless our land and nation and wished we would dwell in unity, peace and liberty. To ensure their aspirations were known to us, they coined and entrenched these ideals in our national anthem. It is, therefore, not accidental that Kenya is largely a religious society with over 90 per cent of Kenyans belonging to various religious groups. If positively influenced and nurtured, this population can progressively transform our country, especially during this time of Covid-19 pandemic.

It should not be lost on us that the essence of religion, among other functions, is to provide social-cohesion and control, and to maintain society in social-solidarity.

We  thus should have a collective consciousness to ensure we instil moral empowerment and freedom, positive value systems and integrity in society. Religious leaders occupy unique positions of moral influence and should be part of the solution whenever the country is confronted with challenges. I thank the sector for the role it has continued to play in championing for justice, integrity and better-living.

Kenya, just as the rest of the world, is grappling with Covid-19 challenges.  We continue to lose our beloved citizens to the pandemic regardless of our religious persuasions, political affiliations, social status or creed. It is not in doubt that these challenges need urgent attention and contribution by all of us.

For now, the only prevention option available is personal responsibility in adhering to the Ministry of Health protocols and guidelines. Taking in account the monumental constituency that the religious sector occupies during this time, a call on the religious leaders to focus more on humanity, their spiritual nourishment, welfare and to positively contribute to the fight against Covid-19 is essential.

Our health facilities have been overstretched and that there is pressure on health workers. This is not a matter for the state alone. All of us must contribute. Religious leaders are persuaded be mindful of the pastoral duty to ensure their followers are healthy and safe. The Bible says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love”.

Doing everything in love means we must prioritise the societal wellbeing by preaching protection from evil in all its forms. We should teach our followers to guard themselves from the pandemic by complying with the established protocols. Most significantly, religious leaders should lead by example and pray for the world and our country and rebuke evil from the pulpit. This is the time to support and cooperate with the government and all actors to implement the mitigation measures and encourage followers to exercise personal responsibility and maintain discipline.

Clerics should encourage politicians whenever they come to your various places of worship to subject themselves to scrutiny on how they have managed power and public resources in the management of the pandemic.

Even as we continue to tackle the pandemic, it is apparent that we seemingly have a big challenge with regard to our value system. The religious sector, as the custodian of our morality, should play a leading role in engineering a culture change in society. We need to build a society that respects God and humanity.

Remarkably, Kenyans have already codified their desired values under articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution that prescribe the national values and principles of governance.

Observance of these values by all is the surest way to guaranteeing our country’s prosperity.

The spread of coronavirus is largely associated with our general behaviour and has not only hampered our quest for progress in social, political and economic spheres but also our general welfare.

I am certain that with intensified and sustained stewardship by the religious sector, obeying and living by our national values will lead Kenyans to a new way of being, where people uphold integrity and the rule of law.

It is not in doubt that we are not yet there. If we were, we would not have a problem complying with Covid-19 protocols and guidelines. Religious leaders must never shy away from engaging the state on matters that affect humanity.

Without prejudice to the other religious sectors, for Christians, the Old Testament shows the relationship between the church and the state as one that is closely linked. Prophets such as Samuel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Nathan acted as God’s messengers challenging the political leaders of that era. While in the New Testament, Jesus told us, “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and unto God what belongs to God.” If the religious sector lives up to its calling, it will be easier for the country to navigate Covid-19 challenge.

Our various religious associations and forums should consider enhancing their interventions in the prevention of Covid-19 through deliberate programmes for rallying their flocks behind government efforts to fight the pandemic.

Through enhanced collaboration with the government, the religious sector should participate more in the making of the decisions that affect the wellbeing of households and communities. They should, as a matter of responsibility, bolster good governance by rebuking corruption as a sin and providing stewardship in the efforts to strengthen our moral fabric.

In conclusion, I wish to inspire Kenyans with the clarion call from US Senator Morris Shepherd that..., “a nation that cannot preserve itself ought to die, and it will die – die in the grasp of the evils it’s too feeble to overthrow”.

Let’s work together for the prosperity of Kenya. God Bless Kenya

Archbishop (Rtd) Dr Eliud Wabukala is the  Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman