A new survey by ShahidiHub Africa shows that most Christians in Kenya at (79.13%) think it is inappropriate for pastors/church leaders to publicly endorse a political candidate(s) or a political party from the pulpit.
Approximately 15% believe it is appropriate for pastors/church leaders to endorse apolitical candidate or party publicly.
At the same time, 6% were unsure whether church leaders should out rightly speak on this matter.
The Church & Politics survey sought to determine the attitudes of Christians in Kenya across church denominations on politics, elections, and the extent of their involvement in the political process.
It also looked into other matters touching on pulpit ministry.
The online poll was open to Christians from all church denominations in Kenya. It reveals opinions and practices on the specific areas covered by the survey.
Except for a marginal 4.52% who do not give recognition to politicians in their churches, most Christians polled indicated that their churches recognize political leaders when they join their worship services.
However, the nature of recognition differs based on congregational/ denominational practices. In the order of the scores, some Churches (34%) allow politicians to address the congregation away from the pulpit, other churches (23%) permit them to only wave-and-sit-down, and another 17% of congregations allow them to address the congregation from the pulpit (17%), while 16% of churches allow them to address worshipers outside the church building.
The survey also shows that Christians in Kenya, during an election process, believe their primary role is to be responsible citizens (83.03%), vote (81.14%), and pray (79.42%).
Other roles, as indicated, include: vying for a political seat (49.10%), mobilizing support for a credible political candidate (27.44%), and offering financial support (20.40%).
For this reason, the survey shows that the church plays a vital role in the political life of a nation during an electioneering period.
Church’s political participation spans from before, during, and after elections.
According to the Christians polled, the top six roles of the Church during an election process include: Promoting cohesion and preventing election-related violence (87.30%), Advocating for social justice (71.87%), Mediating during conflicts and crises (67.33%), Offering counsel to political leaders (63.70%), Voter education (62.61%), being a prophetic voice/moral conscience of society (48.82%) by speaking into policy, structural and governance issues.
Other highlighted roles include: Holding leaders accountable (42.83%) and Encouraging and equipping aspiring politicians (33.39%).
However, approximately 13% thought the Church should only preach the gospel.
Meanwhile, the top five considerations that will inform the choices of leaders in the upcoming elections (in order) include Character and values of the candidates (85.06%), Spiritual Life of the candidates (62.66%), Leadership experience (61.20%), Manifesto of political (57.92%), Former leadership performance (57.74%).
Other factors include involvement in church activities by the leaders (38.07%), Gender concerns (17.85%), and Political party/coalitions (13.48%).
The age of candidates (9.65%) and the tribal identities of candidates (1.46) scored the lowest.
For Christians who want to vie, the study shows that most Christians in Kenya (65%) believe that clergy and Church leaders who wish to vie for political seats should resign from church leadership; 27% disagreed with the statement, while 8% were unsure on whether they should resign.
Through this survey, it is clear that although many Christians hold that the Church plays a pivotal role in politics and that the Bible is key to better politics, many churches have given less emphasis in their sermons/preaching to the prevailing concerns such as the upcoming general elections and negative ethnicity and patriotism.
The low attention on health matters related to Covid-19 can partly be attributed to the low positivity rates experienced in the first half of 2022 with finding emphasizing the need for churches to intentionally and proactively equip the Church in light of emerging contextual concerns.
According Shahidi Hub Research, 102 Church Denominations in Kenya were represented with 601 respondents in 3ounties.
The research was carried on between February- 2nd August 2022 (Though put on hold for some weeks, midway) and results released on 3rd August 2022.
The margin of error is ±4.0%; the sample provides a Confidence level of 95%.
The Snowball Sampling method was employed by Research assistants to get respondents from various churches/denominations in Kenya, who then recommended the survey link to Christian forums within their networks.
The US-based online data service company- SurveyMonkey Inc (Momentive) hosted theonline data in the survey that was sponsored by ShahidiHub Africa Ltd with Lead Researcher being Dr. Elkana Cheboi who holds a Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Africa International University.
He is an educator, consultant, researcher, publisher, and ordained minister of the gospel. Currently, he leads a team of researchers and oversees publications.
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