chapter  9
14 Pages

‘I will make you into a Great Nation, and I will Bless you’ 1

Citizens, traitors and Christianity in Kenya
WithGregory Deacon

This chapter explores the political influence of Christianity in Kenya from a historical perspective showing continuities and disconnections between the oldest mainline churches and more contemporary forms of Pentecostal-charismatic churches. The analysis clearly highlights how over time and in different ways all Christian denominations contributed to produce exclusionary public understandings of citizenship. While showing how Christianity has been important in defining the idea of nation and national belonging in colonial and postcolonial Kenya, and in determining who was excluded from it, the chapter also showcases how in more contemporary times Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity is producing a dominant way of discussing and shaping politics through specific idioms, rituals and symbols. Even if Kenya is officially and constitutionally a secular state, the analysis shows how ‘Pentecostalised’ discourses are bound to the political realm, and the idea of nation and of ‘ideal’ citizens that should belong to it.