Their freedom of worship is enforced by the constitution which states that there shall be no state religion and prohibits religious discrimination.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion and belief individually or in communities, including the freedom to manifest any religion through worship, practice, teaching or observance.
Approximately 70 percent of Kenyans are Christians, 38 percent Protestant and 28 percent Catholic. About 25 percent are adherents of indigenous religions with 6 percent being Muslim. Among the Asian community, there are Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees, and Bahais.
Although their beliefs and practices vary in detail among Kenya’s ethnic groups, they share many general characteristics. Almost all involve belief in an eternal, omnipotent creator envisaged as remote.
However, the freedom and existence of different religions have continued to elicit a myriad of reactions. Some of the things done in the name of adoration have crossed the line of normality.
The craziness in the name of religion does not just start with the recent Pastor James Ng’ang’a’s stints that have attracted a lot of reactions, they have been going on for quite a while.
The city pastor is on record on numerous occasions leading his services by calling out names, slapping his worshippers, and even performing miracles. Despite all his antics, he has continued to command a huge following.
The most talked-about religion is freemasonry. In Kenya, it still remains a secret and perhaps most feared among some individuals but its impact is very powerful.
As written by the then Head of Public Service Duncan Ndegwa in his book, Walking in Kenyatta’s struggles, they at one time attempted to recruit founding President Mzee Kenyatta.
Other than that, the secret society has taken credit for different architectural designs especially in Nairobi.
Parliament, the All Saintâ€™s Cathedral, McMillan Library, Kenya Railways headquarters and City Hall, all of which stand out for their impeccable and seamless masonry.
They are all deemed as masonic, complete with signs and symbols.
Their presence and powerful existence thus cannot be wished away.
The most famous one among the Mulembe Nation is Jehovah Wanyonyi. He led a mysterious life and his ‘whereabouts’ remain top-secret among his followers, five years after his ‘disappearance’.
Nonetheless, devotees of the Lost Israelites sect believe that their ‘God’, Jehovah Wanyonyi, is alive and has just taken a break at a serene place. They insist he will join them soon and offer spiritual guidance on life before the anticipated end of the world.
“Our God is not like any ordinary human being who dies. He has been with us here and he will come back. The fact that you non-believers are not seeing him does not mean that he is dead.”
In Bungoma county, a sect leader known as Nabii Yohana V commands a huge following and people from the region would do anything to please him.
He claims to be the reincarnated John the Baptist.
â€œI was born in Egypt and after five years, I went to Israel where I lived for 230 years. I later went back to my creator. I prepared the way for Jesus. I was 203 years old at the time Jesus came. I consecrated him to begin his work before I went to heaven,â€ noted Nabii Yohana V.
The religious head claims God sent him, on February 15, 1941, to complete the work of Jesus Christ and bring light to Africa.
To some, this may seem untrustworthy but his influence and power among the community is unmeasured.
The Legio Maria religion is not new to controversies. In 2020, the worshippers engaged in running battles with law enforcement officers over a shrine. The skirmishes were between two factions that led to eight people losing their lives and this resulted in a court case.
The incident left most people questioning why humans should lose their lives fighting over a shrine.
The religion closely resembles Pentecostalism. It emphasizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit and incorporates such practices as glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and exorcism into its services while retaining Catholic hierarchy and worship.
The group is often mistaken as being Catholic because it celebrates the main elements of the traditional Latin mass. It has nuns and its own pope, Romanus Ongâ€™ombe, who lives at church headquarters in Got Kwer, located in Migori County, in southwestern Kenya.
â€œLegio Maria offers solutions to the problems we face every day,â€ one of the worshippers stated in a past interview. â€œThe prophets can pray for you and you get a job, husband, wife, and children, and even get healed from sicknesses.â€
Still, there are some religious groups that are considered modest but still powerful.
For example, Catholicism has remained to be among the most powerful religions in the country in the way they uphold their values and stick to integrity.
Catholics have more often been seen as part of the decision-makers with their influence permeating even in the political arena. The Pentecostal church is also of that calibre.