blurring the line between church and state

The Catholic Church has urged Parliament to interrogate the moral values and family principles of two judicial nominees before approving them.

The Church came short of rejecting the nomination of Dr Willy Mutunga and Ms Nancy Barasa for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice respectively, over questions raised about their controversial moral standing.

“The excessive emphasis on academic excellence and radical reformism is not sufficient. Justice fundamentally involves moral order,” said the Church in a statement signed by all the bishops and read by Cardinal Njue.

That is Cardinal John Njue as quoted in the Kenyan daily the Standard.

As part of the implementation of the new constitution the Judicial Service Commission recently nominated Willy Mutunga, a card carrying liberal and reformer. Many in the Kenyan right, including the Church, have come out against Dr. Mutunga – some even pandering to Kenya’s overall conservatism by claiming that Dr. Mutunga might be gay (notice Njue’s comment about “moral order”). Weird stuff.

A part of me thinks that the church is being used by people who know they will lose big time if Kenya’s judiciary gets cleaned up. This talk of morality is horse manure mere hot air. Dr. Mutunga is not a threat, at all, to the country’s conservative character – wrongly conceived or not. He is, however, a nightmare from hell for those who have benefited from corruption since 1963.

The church was on the wrong side of the constitutional debate in 2010 – and lost. It appears that they have not woken up to reality yet. Kenya is changing. If it wants to remain relevant it must change, too.

Dictatorship and Disease

Most Bad things go together.

Like Keating at FP, I am unwilling to make any causal claims linking dictatorship to disease or vice versa but suffice it to say that most people who live under dictatorships – in Chad, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, North Korea, etc – do live despite great odds occasioned by their respective governments’ incompetence and runaway lack of accountability.

It is not obvious that democracy necessarily leads to good outcomes. In this regard I agree with Huntington that it is not the type of government that matters but the degree of government. China and Rwanda, for instance, are competent autocracies with high degrees of government. They also register much better outcomes than many nominal democracies out there

(Just for the record, this is not to say that we should not promote democracy. Despite the sobering reality of this world, I believe that everyone should do all in their capacity to help disperse power whenever they see it being concentrated in one individual or institution — paraphrasing my officemate Tomer).