Church leaders turn against Ruto amid economic crisis


In a surprising twist of events, religious leaders, once ardent supporters of President William Ruto, are now challenging his administration over his failure to address pressing issues affecting the nation such as high living costs and corruption as well as other unfulfilled campaign pledges more than one year since coming into office.

The leaders, representing diverse mainstream denominations, are raising their voices against the economic challenges faced by ordinary citizens, highlighting a growing disconnect between the government and its erstwhile allies in the faith community.

Sammy Wainaina, the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Provost Advisor on Anglican Communion Affairs in London, has been vocal about his concerns regarding the state of the nation, saying that the country was sliding into anarchy.

“The ruling class doesn’t seem to care about the depressing situation of this country,” Wainaina said during a recent sermon, pointing to the apparent indifference of those in power to the struggles of the common mwananchi. The provost said that both the ruling and opposition parties have become weak, which gives the government leeway to increase taxes and plunder public resources. Wainaina further questioned the government’s handling of essential commodities, such as edible oil unfit for human consumption, emphasising the need for transparency and accountability.

Ruto, 57, is unreservedly vocal about his faith; he frequently quoted scripture, engaged in public prayer, and openly expressed emotions, even shedding tears in public during the 2022 general elections.

Then-Deputy President William Ruto is prayed for by various religious leaders in October 2020. [Courtesy]

His opponents in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya, during the election campaigns, baptised him “deputy Jesus”, a moniker embraced by ardent supporters — the hustlers. Upon the Supreme Court’s confirmation of his victory, Ruto kneeled in prayer with his wife, Rachel, and fellow leaders present in the room.

To add a personal touch to his devotion, President Ruto and his wife constructed a chapel within the confines of their residence in the Karen suburb of Nairobi.

Church and state

“In the context of Kenya, even when I am away, I engage with the Kenyan situation because I am Kenyan. When politicians want to use the church to propagate their agenda, they say the church and politics are one. When the church becomes tough on them, they say do the church thing and leave politics to us,” Wainaina said, adding, “As a theologian, I am also a politician. And the church must engage in politics. And politics is talking about the governance of the nation.”

He said that the church has heard the cry of Kenyans following the increased cost of living and the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling, which is affecting the prices of commodities since we are net importers.

“I hear of a ruling class that doesn’t seem to care about the depressing situation of the country. We have a weak parliament, which can be used by the executive to increase taxes. When this government was campaigning, they said they are going to reduce taxes,” he said, adding, “In fact, they were criticising the previous government, of which they were part. It is a sad situation. The ruling class doesn’t care about the depressing situation of this country. The load of taxes is becoming heavier and heavier.”

He said that this was happening when cases of grand corruption were skyrocketing. A week ago, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of the Anglican Church of Kenya, who led prayers at the Bomas of Kenya following Ruto’s victory declaration, attributed the problems faced by Kenyans to corruption, poor planning, tribalism, and political bickering.

President Ruto and ACK)Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit after a prayer session at his Karen office. REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

“Poor planning has led to flooding, food insecurity, and low agricultural production. We are unlucky because county and national governments do not plan things well, and that is why Kenyans are facing perennial hunger and floods,” Sapit said in Voi town during a celebration marking the 30th anniversary of the Taita-Taveta ACK Diocese. He urged Ruto to acknowledge the truth about the unrealistic promises made during the campaign.

“Let us humble ourselves, face the moment of truth and say this is how we look like,” Sapit declared, signaling a growing dissatisfaction among religious leaders with unmet expectations. We cannot get rich by taking loans from foreign countries, which have become exorbitant and unsustainable. As a country, we should have the ability to save, as this is the only way to realize meaningful development,” he said accompanied by Diocese Bishop Liverson Mng’onda and Bishop Emeritus Dr Samson Mwaluda.

Vocal critic

Self-proclaimed Apostle James Ng’ang’a of Neno Evangelism has also emerged as a vocal critic of the government’s economic policies, particularly its impact on the cost of living.

In a passionate sermon, Ng’ang’a accused the administration of “overburdening Kenyans with tax increases” and expressed frustration about the soaring cost of living. The apostle dared the government to shut down his church if it was offended by his stance, emphasising his commitment to speaking truth to power.

“Sometimes you are misleading this nation. Naongea kama mtume. Uchumi ni mbaya na mnatumia hizo pesa vile mnataka. Mnapandisha uchumi huku, mnaongezea pesa huku, na mtu akiwaambia mnafunga kanisa. Si mkuje mfunge hii yangu! Kujeni mfunge! Stupid!” he dared the authorities. “Na nikihubiri nitaongea na nitasema, what is right? I will say what is right. I swear before God. Some of you guys are misleading this nation; na chuma kiko jikoni, chuma kiko jioni!”

Ng’ang’a’s outspoken critique reflected the broader sentiment within the faith community.

He cautioned the Kenya Kwanza government that if they continued with the same trend, God would topple them. “Naongea kama mtume. Huyu Mungu mnacheza na yeye atawatoa kwa jiko,” he warned.

Nyeri Catholic Archbishop Anthony Muheria has also raised concerns about the high cost of living, calling on leaders to take responsibility.

Muheria said that Kenya Kwanza leaders are looking for scapegoats when there are challenges, instead of finding solutions to the challenges facing Kenyans.

“Many problems have come but we are seeing a lot of pointing of fingers. The problems are common and so solutions must be found together and it should be done by people coming together and talking. From all walks of life. No one has a monopoly of knowledge,” Muheria said on Sunday.

His words connect with people who think the government isn’t understanding in dealing with the economic problems faced by citizens.

“Let us sit and see what the problems are. We don’t have a monopoly of those who know about the economy. It’s not the politicians who own the solutions, it’s experts who have solutions. We should sit and have a conversation,” the archbishop said.

Three months ago, Muheria expressed concerns over the recent increase in fuel prices, stating that it would negatively affect Kenyans.

“The fuel prices have not increased this much in the last three months. We know that fuel prices are affected by the global fluctuation of crude oil prices, but we should not burden the poor Kenyans from all quarters, which include heavy taxation and hiking fuel prices, especially during this time of economic crisis,” he said.

“I urge the government to prioritise finding alternative means of addressing the cost of living rather than relying solely on squeezing an already struggling public. There should be a more equitable distribution of resources.”

Retired Africa Inland Church Bishop Silas Yego, who officiated the Ruto and Rachel wedding and was among the religious leader who visited State House after the President’s secured residency there, echoed the concerns about the state of the Kenyan economy, emphasising the need for fiscal responsibility.

Africa Inland Church (AIC Kenya) presiding Bishop Dr Silas Yego with then-DP William Ruto during a past event. PHOTO BY: KEVIN TUNOI

He urged state authorities to reduce expenditures and curb unnecessary travel expenses, highlighting the importance of using tax revenue wisely for the benefit of the nation.

Bishop Yego’s statement underscored the growing consensus among religious leaders on the responsible use of tax revenue in the face of economic challenges.

“When you collect taxes, it is also good to use them well,” Yego said two months ago in a video recorded by a local TV station.


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