Monday, November 07, 2005

99 Problems But a Constitution Ain't One

As rancorous as the hearings over Alito may become, this Thanksgiving, we all should be thankful that no matter what happens with the Alito pick, we have a completely secular legal system, the existence of a judicial monopoly which neither takes into account religious dogma in running family courts nor deputizes religious tribunals to act with the blessing and full legal authority of the state.

In Kenya, however, the public is at a crossroads with a constitutional referendum, which could empower religious sects with judicial prerogatives in marriage, divorce, and custody laws.

Christianity Today reports that Kenyan Christians find themselves split on the proposed constitution which would allow for religious family law courts (a plurality of Kenyans, 42 percent, oppose it, while 32 percent are in favor):

The Kenya Church, an umbrella body for 40 evangelical churches, opposes the clause and says it is a ploy to ensure that kadhi courts remain in the constitution. Thus, they oppose the draft constitution and have urged their followers to vote no.

"Christians did not ask for religious courts," said Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of Jesus Is Alive Ministries, a key Kenya Church member. "They wanted the government to remove kadhi courts from the constitution. This has not happened, so our opposition to the constitution draft remains."

But not all Christians, who compose about two-thirds of the country's nearly 34 million people, oppose the draft.

"The Kenya Church should reconsider its decision, because the mission of the church should be to promote harmony in society," said Pastor Ndura Waruingi of the Redeemed Gospel Church.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), another body of evangelical churches, did not reject the draft. It said the draft is better than the present constitution, but told Christians to decide for themselves how to vote. The existing constitution affords broad presidential powers, which many Christians oppose.

Some Kenyan Christians might be heartened by the ability to achieve state-granted power to enforce and inculcate biblical values in family life, particularly in issues of marriage and divorce and child-rearing. But the marriage of church and state is one made in Hell, and Satan is its unholy officiant. Aside from serious and well-founded concerns about giving militant Islam a foothold in the government via state-sanctioned religious courts, the Kenyan Church should be equally aghast at the frightening prospect of losing its own soul by wedding the Bride of Christ to Leviathan. The Church Universal should train, instruct, reprove, and encourage its flock, all while longingly awaiting the eternal earthly reign of Christ, for when it seeks to gain temporal powers now to establish a temporal kingdom, it finds itself wrapped up in the cares of this age, not living in light of eternity. One need only look to the endemically corrrupt medieval Catholic Church's marriage with the state to take that lesson to heart. I hope my Kenyan brethren do so when voting later this month.