Kenyan church leaders defend opposition to constitution

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NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS/ENInews) Kenyan church leaders have rejected calls for an apology after they campaigned against a new constitution that was overwhelmingly supported by voters in a referendum.

“There is no need to apologize. The voice of the church is the voice of prophecy and we did nothing wrong in taking a stand over this law,” said Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa.

The new constitution places restrictions on the powers of the president and would institute a bill of rights for citizens. It was drawn up after violence claimed more than 1,000 lives following a disputed election in 2007.

Many Christian leaders in Kenya campaigned against the constitution because of fears that it will allow abortion, entrench Islamic legal courts and limit freedom of worship.

Following the Aug. 5 referendum, the National Civil Society Congress urged the church leaders to apologize for their opposition. Deacon Daniel Yumbya of Africa Brotherhood Church alleged that some church leaders had given out misleading information on the constitution, particularly the abortion clause.

“I am urging my fellow church leaders and politicians, who lied on certain clauses, to apologize to Kenyans,” Yumbya said.

The church leaders said they had no regrets for campaigning against the law, even as top politicians appealed to people to forget their referendum differences and build a united country.

“It is our duty to preach about moral issues in the country,” Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi told journalists after Mass on Sunday (Aug. 8) in Gatundu in central Kenya.

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