Kenyan pastors join crusade for Trump’s second victory

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 00:00 |
US President Donald Trump holds prayers with a group of African American Evangelical pastors during a meeting in 2018. Photo/AFP

Dickens Olewe 

Kenyan pastors have joined their Nigerian counterparts to pray for US President Donald Trump to win next month’s US presidential election. The pastors are praying for a man who has made pejorative remarks about Africa.

Trump has attracted a devout following among some Christians in Africa in spite his harsh remarks about the continent.

Many evangelical Christian groups in Africa, which are mostly anti-abortion, against gay rights and support Israel, were not keen on his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, despite his Kenyan heritage.

“The Obama administration had been pushing a liberal agenda here in Africa and that agenda was of concern to some of us Christian leaders.

It was a relief that during Trump’s time he’s taken a bit of a back seat,” Richard Chogo, a pastor at the Deliverance Church in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, told the BBC.

Chogo praised the Trump administration for cutting funding to organisations, such as Marie Stopes, that provide contraception and safe abortion services in several African countries.

The charity criticised the 2017 US funding ban, saying that it “put women’s lives at risk”.

Abortion illegal

But Pastor Chogo agrees with the law in Kenya where abortion is illegal unless a mother’s health is in danger, saying that to legalise the termination of pregnancies is part of a “population control agenda”.

“Pray for him [Trump] because when God places any of his children in a position, hell sometimes would do everything to destroy that individual,” said Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, a prominent televangelist, in a sermon in June.

He has also warned that critics of the Republican president, who is seeking re-election in November, dislike his supporters.

“They are angry at Trump for supporting Christians, you better know it. So, the real ones that they hate are you who are Christians,” said the pastor, whose broadcasts are popular around the world, including in the US.

President Trump has been a polarising figure the world over but he is popular in African countries like Nigeria and Kenya, according to a Pew Research poll released in January, where supporters do not appear to be bothered that he reportedly referred to African countries as “shitholes” in 2018.

The Venerable Emeka Ezeji, a vicar and archdeacon in the Missionary Christ Anglican Church in Nigeria’s south-eastern Enugu state, says his political views are only determined “by what the scriptures say”.

“Faith is personal, mine is pro life... African Christians believe that a Republican president is better for the US and the world,” he said.

He has been praying for Mr Trump to beat Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden in November, and set aside time every day to pray for the president’s recovery when he was recently in hospital with coronavirus.

Like Pastor Chogo, he too believes that Trump’s “frailties” should not overshadow the “common good”.

For example, he dismisses the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which  Trump has referred to as “a symbol of hate”, saying it has been “hijacked or detoured from its vision”.

“Are other people of colour less victims of racism? Is the life of an average black person better today than seven years ago?

Or is the average black person worse off today under President Trump than during Obama’s presidency when BLM started?” he questions.

Trump has boasted that he has done more for African Americans than any other president in US history, often touting low employment in the first three years in office - something Ezeji applauds.

According to the US Department of Labour, black unemployment in September last year was the lowest figure recorded since it started collecting these statistics in the 1970s.

This has changed following the coronavirus pandemic - and in August stood at 13 percent.

Yet Archdeacon Ezeji feels Trump has more to do for the greater good, quoting the biblical story of Cyrus, a Persian king chosen by God to conquer Babylon which allowed Israelites in exile to return to Jerusalem.

“Trump is the modern-day Cyrus,” he said

“God is saying… he’s my servant who will do my will,” Mr Emeka said.

Rev Juliet Eyimofe Bintie, who is based in Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos, agrees. “He’s chosen by God,” the theologian and preacher told the BBC. – BBC

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