The cancellation of a wedding in Nakuru by a pastor after the couple ‘failed to meet standards’ has outraged not only Kenyans within the country but also the Diaspora community.
The debate over Apostle Jesse Karanja’s decision went viral on social media with many condemning the clergyman to have caused severe damages to the family.
They fired salvos at the preacher with some saying that he should be sued for damages estimated at over Sh1 million.
“The pastor should be sued for costs and damages made,” Jane Wangari Odongo a Kenyan based in Ottawa Canada said. “A wedding is a family/community affair, we should only go to church for the blessing.”
Ms Odongo pointed out that churches should have a protocol on a decision to cancel a wedding.”The law should be clear on who has to cancel a wedding, ” she added.
Hassan Proden lashed out at the preacher, saying his actions were interpreted that should one be HIV-positive they should not marry. “Who said HIV-positive people should not get married? If I were them, I would undergo a series of HIV tests. If negative, that facility and the pastor must pay.”
Alex Maleche, who tagged the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), Director of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the National Council of Churches of Kenya, said the law criminalises compulsory testing.
“Compelling a person to undergo a HIV test as a precondition to, or for the continued enjoyment of marriage is a criminal offense under Section 13 sub-section 4 of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act. Please follow up on this!” he wrote on social media.
Abednego Okutoyi a Kenyan from Dubai said he was angered with the pastor’s decision saying the clergyman failed to understand his mandate. He called upon the DCI to launch an investigation immediately and arrest the him.
“I hope the said pastor understands that marriage is not a Church but a State (legal) affair. I hope the pastor knows that he represents and conducts marriage ceremonies on behalf of the AG and has no authority of his own.”
Others were were saying the pastor was hiding something.
“The disclosures are made prior to the wedding and are important to the groom and bride, not the pastor. The pastor had an ill-motive but preaches as if he is a man of integrity, he had an eye on the lady,” Patrick Mukhwana said.
Susan Kimani faulted the pastor for not telling the couple that he wouldn’t officiate their union and giving a valid reason. “That was wrong by all means. He should have told them a day before.”
Others said the couple should have sought the services of another pastor or have a civil marriage.
“Why wouldn’t they just get another pastor?” wrote Dennis Muthusi while Kipkorir Kogo posed, “Too bad for them. Let them go to their DC for signing (of the marriage certificate).”
Pastor defended his action
The wedding was to happen on Saturday November 3, 2018 at Mizpah House of prayer church in Bahati, Nakuru County.
Speaking while delivering his sermon on Sunday, Apostle Karanja defended his action saying the couple failed to meet the set standards.
“Basic principles of our Christian Pentecostal ministry were not met. As an apostolic leader I have to answer to God about your life… I have the authority to tell you, ‘you must go this way.” If you don’t do it I have a legal authority from heaven to ex-communicate you,” said Apostle Karanja.
“Yesterday (on Saturday), we were supposed to have a wedding but it did not happen. The main reason is that our standards as a Christian church organization were not met. Every member must adhere to some basic christian standards. Any deviation calls for the church not to perform any christian ordinance.”
“We had given the couple up to Friday to fulfill some standard requirements of this ministry because we proclaim living a life of purity. We advocate sex out of marriage for young people. We have set our own biblical standards that everyone must meet. There are other personal reasons that we cannot give you,” said the clergy man.
Despite spending close to one millions shillings for ceremony that did not go as planned, the couple says it will still go on with their plans and marry at a later date.