A Developing Storm: Kenya’s’ Muslims verses Kenya Christian Schools.
The right not to admit: Should Muslim girls wear a Hijab to Church sponsored schools? This is the new war developing in Kenya today. Historically Kenyan religion philosophy has been a silent syncretism. During major national events, the government has accommodated all religions, especially within three categories: African Traditional religion (usually represented by a Massai elder), Christianity, and Islam. Apart from my constant complain given my biblical understanding of Yesu Kristo as the only “way, the truth and life,” and the biblical revelational claim that He is “the only way to the father”, most Kenyan pastors and theologians are muted about this heretical fellowship. John 14:6.
The supreme court of Kenya overturned the lower court ruling that allowed Muslims to wear a Hijab in all schools, including private Christian schools. The lower court had argued that restricting the girls was a violation of religious right. Although the Supreme Court did revert the authority to school administrative decision, it did keep the door open to hear the case again.
The question is whether Christian schools should support Islamic practice. In the United States, private religious schools have autonomy in administrative decision. They have the right to admit or not admit any person who fails to adhere to its Christian values and principles. My Alma Mater Trinity College (Deerfield ILL) requires that student sign a document submitting to its regulations, which are based upon its Christian values. To be admitted, one must sign this document! One of the requirements is attending chapel 3 times a week. Many religious institutions in the United States adhere to this admissions principle, with the right to not admit.
Christians started most prestigious institutions in the United States including, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. Their goal was to train believers for the ministry in all human disciplines. The employment of liberal, non-Christian faculty in these institutions eroded their original intention resulting in their being overrun by the current liberal and paganistic philosophy.
Kenya’s school system is deeply rooted in Christianity. The church played a very important role in establishing education. Our first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was educated under the Presbyterian mantel while president Daniel Arap Moi is a product of the Africa Inland Mission (Kijabe), which is the mother of Africa Inland Church Kenya. President Mwai Kibaki was brought up under the Catholic Mission and the current president Uhuru Kenyatta was brought up by his mother, mama Ngina, who hailed from a family of catholic faithful.
Kenya school system is an amalgam of government and church partnership. Many National schools including Alliance high school, Nairobi school, Limuru Girls and others are sponsored by churches but staffed by government teachers under the TSC. Each school adheres to the sponsoring Christian institution’s theological orientation and denominational dogma. These schools allow Christian minority groups within them to also participate in their denominational practice. For example, Kijabe boys high school which was established under the AIM, AIC mentor allows those students who are catholic to also have catholic unions. However all students attend an AIC sponsored church service every week. The chaplain is a clergy member of the Africa Inland Church. This is how Most Kenyan Schools operate.
It is within this historical development that the Muslims in Kenya want their girls to be allowed to practice their Islamic faith. They are arguing that they should be allowed to wear a hijab in church sponsored schools. Although Protestants and Catholics have different dogmas, their foundation is the same: Yesu Kristo! The cross of Christ is the unifying factor and although the hierarchical and sacramental faith differs in practice, both bear the Cross of Christ.
Islam and Christianity share only the old testamental history given that Isaac was a half brother of Ishmael. However the two faiths do not have the same doctrinal foundation and cannot share the same platform. Aden Duale is wrong in arguing that schools should allow all faith practices! It is clear that he does not know the history of educational institutions in Kenya. Indeed if the schools were established by the government on a non-religious bases, this would be true. But most of Kenyan schools are sponsored by Christian institutions and should not be forced to adhere to practices of an alien faith. Muslims/government schools should be free to have their own religious symbols and practices, while Christian/government schools should be allowed to follow their own manual. Faith is not an amalgam faith is not inclusive. Rather, faith is exclusive and non coercive!
The Kenyan Supreme Court was right. But their decision should have been final not temporary!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist