August 2022 will be a big month for the Kenyan political landscape.
How Christians engage the Kenyan political space can be reduced to three major extremes:
- Politics is a “no-go zone” for Christians
- Voting should maintain our ethical power bloc
- Christians should organize themselves around some utopian party made up of only Jesus-followers
These three remain problematic ways to engage the political space. The first and third, create a dichotomy between private Christian confession and pluralistic public life. Because the political space is made up of many voices, the first option calls for a retreat from the space. The third option seems different in that it engages the space but engages it from a perspective that doesn’t engage with the reality (and complexity) of diversity. The second option stubbornly seeks a monochromatic ethnic definition, rather than a diverse and rich ethnic contribution to Kenya’s public life.
I have argued elsewhere that rather than this dischotomous thinking, the Church has vast resources in how our faith engages with public life. In this paper, I engage with key African theologians and scholar-practitioners such as Emmanuel Katongole, Sammy Gitari, Damaris Parsitau and Timothy Njoya, to distill helpful elements that can help us to engage our public life. By retrieving the global church’s historical thinking on the matter, this paper explores the implications for African societies, including the church, theological institutions, and public life.