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Kenyan Christian leaders oppose polygamy bill

Published March 28, 2014 2:01 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Nairobi, Kenya • Christian leaders are urging President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign into law a proposed new marriage bill that legalizes polygamy.

Legislators passed the law last week after an intense debate that saw women members of Parliament storm out in protest. The bill's passage followed an amendment to the existing marriage legislation to allow men to marry as many women as they want. It awaits Kenyatta's signature to become law.

But the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya have rejected it, saying the law will undermine Christian principles of marriage and family.

The Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary the Kenyan church council, said the bill demeans women and fails to respect the principle of spouses' equality in marriage.

"We urge the president not to sign it until the offensive clauses are removed," Karanja told a news conference Wednesday.

Roman Catholic Cardinal John Njue urged Kenyatta to reject it, too.

"I don't think the bishops will accept it," he said.

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Alliance warned the proposed law would contribute to the erosion of marriage and the continued spread of HIV infections.

"We cannot ensure fidelity with such a law," said Bishop David Oginde, the head of Christ is the Answer Ministries, a member of the alliance. "The Bible is clear that an ideal marriage is between one man and one woman."