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Ruto stops publicising church attendance as pressure on govt mounts

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On Sunday, Ruto was conspicuously absent from churches, an unusual occurrence since he took power in September 2022.

Kenya's President, William Ruto, has been noticeably absent from his usual church services and religious gatherings.

His regular appearances with fellow devout Christians have ceased in recent weeks as the country continues to witness peaceful, youth-led protests against the controversial Finance Bill 2024.

Ruto’s political fortunes seem increasingly precarious as the ongoing upheaval threatens his tenure. His previously unshakable bond with churches, forged through acts of generosity and a deep connection with clergy, has been tested by these turbulent times, and he appears grounded.

On Sunday, Ruto was conspicuously absent from churches, an unusual occurrence since he took power in September 2022. He didn't publicise his church attendance as he had previously done, suggesting he either skipped the service or attended covertly.

His movements have been minimal and, when necessary, carried out silently.

President William Ruto hosts Catholic Bishops at State House, Nairobi, on Friday, June 28, 2024. (Photo: PCS)President William Ruto hosts Catholic Bishops at State House, Nairobi, on Friday, June 28, 2024. (Photo: PCS)

The Eastleigh Voice has confirmed that roads leading to State House and its vicinity have been barricaded, with heavy security deployed, highlighting the profound unease within the Ruto administration.

On Sunday, June 30, the President discreetly attended a church service in Lolgorian, Narok County, southwest of Nairobi, without the usual fanfare.

The church setup, featuring a chair without red carpets and heavy security guards, portrayed a stripped-down image, possibly to indicate that he was under tight control.

However, outside the church, angered and frustrated Kenyans confronted Ruto over the country's economic hardships.

Only a handful of politicians attended church services, as many avoided them to steer clear of backlash from furious youth determined to sideline politicians from the pulpit and steer the church towards its spiritual roots.

Among the many people William Ruto thanked after winning Kenya's 2022 presidential election were religious leaders, a significant number of whom had enthusiastically campaigned for the shrewd career politician.

"I am sure their prayers will not be in vain," Ruto said. 

During the protests, he also hosted bishops at State House, Nairobi, for what he said was a conversation seeking to identify solutions to the country’s problems. The clergy, he said, committed to participate in a multi-sectoral engagement to solve the issues mostly raised by protesters.

President William Ruto meets leaders of the African Independent Pentecostal Church Africa at State House Nairobi on Saturday, June 29, 2024. (Photo: PCS)President William Ruto meets leaders of the African Independent Pentecostal Church Africa at State House Nairobi on Saturday, June 29, 2024. (Photo: PCS)

The landscape has shifted dramatically, thanks to the bold actions of Mwabili Mwagodi, a hospitality consultant from the Coast who is risking everything to sideline politicians. Mwabili has crisscrossed the country, challenging churches until they began cancelling fundraisers and political appearances.

One church scrapped a fundraiser headlined by First Lady Rachel Ruto, while another called off an event attended by 14 politicians to mark its new sanctuary.

In response, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, representing about 900 denominations, urged churches to uphold the sanctity of the pulpit and refrain from hosting politicians.

Earlier, Mwabili led the "Occupy Nyahururu" protests when Ruto visited a church in Nyandarua town two weeks ago, marking the apex of what became the largest and most vocal protest against political involvement in churches.

Churches have since echoed this sentiment, commending Generation Z for their commitment to improving Kenya.

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