Guest / Limited Access /
Radical Proposal to Weed Out 'Fake Pastors' Splits Kenyans
Haji Hamisi / AFP / Getty
Radical Proposal to Weed Out 'Fake Pastors' Splits Kenyans

Willy Mutunga, a former Ford Foundation executive now turned chief justice of Kenya's Supreme Court, has long made headlines. During his campaign, it was for the single gold earring he wore. Once elected, he submitted the nation's judges to vigorous vetting sessions aired live on national TV. Some did not pass.

But recently, Mutunga ignited debate when he publicly proposed that Kenya's pastors undergo similar vetting by the courts in order to weed out opportunists. (He declined an interview with CT.)

The problem of "fake pastors" is not new to Kenya. Tales of dubious divine healings and questionable behavior have become common, notes Mwenda Njoka, founder of the Africa Center for Investigative Journalism.

What is new is the level of public awareness. For example, shortly before Mutunga's speech, a TV exposé captivated the nation with the case of Michael Njoroge, pastor of Fire Ministries, who allegedly paid prostitutes to give false testimonies about miracles. (He denied the claims.)

Also new is how technology has made it easier to fleece the faithful. A pioneering mobile-to-mobile money transfer service called M-Pesa, which has won accolades from the Gates Foundation and others for making banking accessible to poor and rural Africans, is en vogue among televangelists. A pastor will display his cell phone number and ask those seeking miracles to send money. The sums get higher as the presumed difficulty of the miracle increases.

Given this backdrop, Mutunga's radical proposal has split Kenyans.

Paul Muasya, the regional head of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, gave Mutunga his full backing. "We believe it will ensure only those called to proclaim the word of the Lord ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueWhy Latino Enrollments Are on the Rise
Subscriber Access Only Why Latino Enrollments Are on the Rise
A new alliance of Christian schools wants to see Hispanics compose 25 percent off their student body by 2015.
RecommendedChurches Challenge Nigeria Forcing Pastors to Retire
Churches Challenge Nigeria Forcing Pastors to Retire
New law requiring resignation after age 70 or 20 years in pulpit would affect 90 percent of evangelical pastors.
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickUltrasounds Help Bridge Evangelical and Catholic Theology
Ultrasounds Help Bridge Evangelical and Catholic Theology
Pregnancy centers find common ground in the pro-life cause.
Christianity Today
Radical Proposal to Weed Out 'Fake Pastors' Splits Kenyans
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.