Atheists in Kenya Denied Recognition After Religious Leaders Protest

Harrison Mumia

The Fellowship of Christian Unions of Kenya said last month that it does not oppose the registration of Atheists in Kenya (AIK), as its associates have a constitutional right to believe in what they want to. At the same time, Focus Kenya said Atheists in Kenya should not make use of any aggressive machinery to undermine Christianity in the African nation.

“Faith is about choice and not coercion and hence we should expect to live with these people but try to show them through our deeds that indeed there is God,” Charles Kanjama said.

Focus Kenya spoke on May 2 during the Hesabika Convention 2016 at Kenyatta University.

Before this recent development, Atheists in Kenya (AIK) pledged to sue Attorney General Githu Muigai for caving in to pressure from religious groups to have their registration suspended. On April 30, Muigai directed the Registrar of Societies to suspend Atheists in Kenya’s registration until all legal queries concerning the group’s proprietary, authenticity and constitutionality have been clarified by the Supreme Court.

Harrison Mumia, president of Atheists in Kenya (AIK), said they had not yet been served with an official letter from the Attorney General; though once a decision has been reached, he would move court immediately.

“The suspension has not been made official. We are only getting this from media reports but if he makes it official then he should prepare for a major legal battle,” said Mumia.

Mumia further stated that his group had the backing of the country’s top lawyers—lawyers who were ready to battle it out in court if Atheists in Kenya (AIK) were to be deregistered.

Expressing fury a day before Muigai reached his decision, religious leaders in the country called for his resignation saying his decision to register Atheists in Kenya (AIK) happens to contradict Kenyan morals.

In an official statement, Muigai said the constitutionality of Atheists in Kenya would be determined by the Supreme Court.

Atheists in Kenya also challenged the Roman Catholic Church to try and convert them instead of criticizing their registration.

“I believe their role should be trying to convince non-believers into believing, not criticising people for exercising their rights. Let them contact AIK and try and convert us,” said Mumia.

The statement from Mumia came only a few hours after Atheists in Kenya held a party to celebrate their registration in April. The theme party—titled “Without God”—sparked controversy after its invitation poster went viral online. Mumia said the party held at a club on Kimathi Street in Nairobi turned out to be a success nevertheless, as plenty of Kenyans turned up to support the group.

“We drank and danced and surprisingly many Kenyans showed up to support us. It shows that more people understand and respect rights and the Constitution,” he said.

The party reportedly led to an increase in the number of people following Atheists in Kenya, which currently has approximately 200 registered members and another 5,000 seeking

“Atheists in Kenya want a place, recognition and space to interact,” Mumia added, estimating atheists constitute five to seven percent of the country’s population.

Atheists in Kenya has not been shy of criticizing religious groups.

“There’s no reliable evidence for any god, or even for Jesus. There is also extensive evidence that Jesus and all gods are fictional characters — myths, created mainly by primitive people who had little understanding of how our universe operates,” the group states on its website.

According to Mumia, AIK wants a definite separation between church and state, a logical inquiry into moral issues—like abortion and a stop to the teaching of religion in public schools.

However, some church leaders have said the government was justified in rejecting Atheists in Kenya’s application.

“Our constitution is clear on the issue of God,” said the Reverend David Gathanju, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Photo Credits: Lawyer Herald

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