Marriage as a factor affecting the transfer of religious allegiance in Kenya
This dissertation embodies the results of research into marriage as a factor affecting the transfer of religious allegiance in Kenya, carried out between 1970 and 1973* The research draws upon a number of academic disciplines, including anthropology, theology and demography, but falls principally within the field of the sociology of religion. In a preliminary investigation into the extent of intercontinental between Islam and Christianity in East Africa, it was observed that marriage via.3 an important cause of conversion of individual Christian^ to Islam. This originating observation suggested an inquiry into the relationship between transfer of religious allegiance and marriage, with related sexual phenomena. The field of inquiry embraced Kenyan traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. The dissertation opens with a study of the doctrine and practice of marriage and sex in the three religions. In traditional religion it was beyond the scope of the work to make a comprehensive survey of the practices of all the tribes of Kenya and so a selection was made to produce a representative survey typical of the practice of the majority of the people’. In Islam the orthodox practice according to Islamic lav; is outlined and related to the situation in Kenya. The extent to which polygamy and divorce are practiced by Muslims in Kenya is investigated and compared with other Muslim countries. The Asian community receives a brief mention. In Christianity the references to marriage in the Old Testament are examined from the point of view of many Christians in Kenya who, lacking commentaries in the vernacular, perforce ado t a rather literal interpretation. The hew Testament is also dealt with and then a study is made of the attitude to sex and marriage of the European missionaries who brought the Gospel to Kenya. The interaction between the throe religions is next examined, taken two at a time. Marriage between Arabs and Africans produced the Swahili people with their distinctive ’bridging' culture. This facilitated the spread of Islam into the interior during the nineteenth century, although Muslim successes were considerably more marked in Tanganyika and Uganda than in Kenya. Apart from the Muslim stronghold at the Coast and in the north-east of the country, Islam is largely confined to isolated 'Swahili villages' which were established year ago and have not expanded into the surrounding countryside The interaction between traditional religion and Christianity has produced a major conflict over the issues of polygamy and initiation ceremonies. By and large the mission-founded churches have followed the missionaries' uncompromising line. The independent churches have generally been more ready to admit polygamists to their membership. The practice varies from church to church and the admission of polygamists is only one of many reasons why people are attracted to independent churches. Not a few members of the mission-founded churches who lapse into polygamy prefer to remain in their church oven though they are placed under some form of discipline. Having studied marriage In the throe religions and their interaction with each other, attention is next directed to theological considerations. The determination of many Kenyans to continue the traditional practice of Polygamy and initiation ceremonies despite tho churches* discipline is examined and it is shown that the desire for continued existence is a strong motivation behind these customs. In Christianity a favorable existence after death is secured through faith in Jesus Christ, in Islam it is obtained through membership of the Muslim community, and in traditional religion it is brought about by begetting offspring. Thus the religious importance of marriage in traditional religion becomes apparent. The unwillingness of Christian converts to abandon this part of their former religion altogether is seen by their actions which call forth the discipline of the church. In reality they have not fully accepted the Christian view of salvation. Two chapters are devoted to a study of the pastoral problems raised in Christianity by transfers of religious allegiance occasioned by marriage. In regard to Islam it is shown how European attitudes towards Islam have been syncretistic and defentict, and how these attitudes have carried over into the church in Kenya at the recent time. The large number of Christian denominations in Kenya has.further served to blur tho theological distinction between Christianity and Islam. In regard to traditional religion it is suggested that polygamyy is likely to decline, not through the church*s torching, but for economic reasons, but it is being replaced by premarital sexual intercourse as the church's major moral problem, but all the evidence suggests that thin moral offense in m generally accepted as normal practice amongst Christian that tho church in obliged to make tacit acceptance of it. Lastly secularism and its effect upon the status of women is considered. secularism is seen -to come to the aid of women in reducing the degree of male dominance in Kenyan society which has had the acceptance of the three religions. The result is to give wives greater freedom in the practice of religion. Secularism seems to be affecting the Christian community more than the others. The dissertation ends with a concluding assessment summarising the findings of the different chapters, and the suggestion is made that marriage and pastoral theology might make a fruitful field for African theologians desiring to bring a distinctive African contribution to Christian theology.