May God forgive you for you do not know what you are writing.
That was the response from one netizen on the Business Today Facebook Page following an article we wrote on the financial status of some churches.
As is the case with any story written anywhere, the piece exposed itself to a myriad of reactions and the comments section on the Business Today Facebook page was awash with reactions.
The Business Today article had assessed churches by looking at institutions that had made public their financial results.
In the ranking, Christ is the Answer Ministries registered a total income of Ksh1.48 billion in 2017, while Nairobi Chapel, Mavuno Church, All Saints Cathedral and Nairobi Baptist Church all ranked highly.
Tithes and offerings
Some who commented seemed to have interpreted the article titled Kenya’s richest churches reap billions from worshippers as an attack on the religious custom of giving offerings and tithes in churches.
“I am a christian who gives. I am not ashamed to give. If we never question the amount of money that we purchase goods at supermarkets, or the money we pay for expensive salons or the amount of money people spend in bars then we should never question what is paid or given to church,” said one Joe Maina.
Maina added that everyone has a choice of where to give, be it to institutions with accountable systems or other without said structures. Accordingly, the person who receives the money has the right to use it however they want.
“What I will tell you, for a Christian giving is one of the pillars. It has its fruits and that’s why you will always see givers giving more,” the Facebook commenter added.
A commenter by the name Sam MK added his voice by saying, “But what’s wrong with worshipers giving tithes and offerings from the bottom of their hearts… This post sounds like it discouraging people from giving tithes and offerings which are orders from God in the books of Malachi and Deuteronomy.”
Others however termed those who give to churches as “gullible”, while Karugu Mureithi posited, “Stealing with the Bible. These guys should pay taxes.”
Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) also seemed to be a popular topic on the comments section. This is presumably because the church led by Bishop David Oginde topped our assessment of rich churches in Kenya.
Most of the commenters praised CITAM for making its books public and for its good ministry.
“Those who are stingy to minsitry should know that these churches are transparent and organized. Many souls have been and are being saved daily,” said Kenneth Kirenge-Muchiri Mwangi.
Doris Kinoti added, “It is good news to note that CITAM actually has a financial statement that accounts for the money collected.What else would one need to know than see how monies contributed was spent.”
Ashford Kim however questioned “Does CITAM have a program to assist the poor, widows, homeless and orphans?”
Steve Kyalo asked why Business Today chose to focus on some churches and not other religious organizations and religions. “I am sure if you populated these churches their income will be many times that of CITAM.”
However, once we replied that this was just a snapshot of the churhces for which we could find and verify public financial statements, he added,”It is actually a good thing to have these public institutions public their financials. I doubt CITAM is the ‘richest’ church as the report seems to suggest, unless the other churches do not pay taxes as expected.”
Reagan Simbi questioned, “Why dont you also tell us about the millions wasted in bars and pubs?”
Joe Maina on the other hand concluded his article by saying, “I wish the writer of this article would have been more positive. If he would have told us how CITAM uses its money, it would have been more balance. For now, its too imbalanced to be a business article.”
With a clever twist of scripture, one responder used a phrase uttered by Jesus and turned it into a comment.
With his dying breath, one of the gospels records Jesus as saying “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they are doing.” Dorine Kanguha Mwanje took this in step and told us “May God forgive you for you do not know what you are writing.”
Another, by the name Gilbert King did not hide what they thought about our story. “Nonsense, find something else [to] write about.”
The article, which had stemmed from the debate started by Citizen TV journalist Linus Kaikai in his editorial that saw a group of evangelical bishops condemn him, had featured financial statements and other accompanying evidence issued by news reports or by the churches that were mentioned.