The group Atheists in Kenya (AiK) has had a difficult time getting any respect in the country. Even getting official status as a registered group (akin to becoming a legal non-profit in the United States) was blocked by the government earlier this year and remains in limbo today.
The government is now using that ambiguity to prevent the atheists from helping needy children.
This weekend, the atheists were planning to visit the NEST Children’s Home — a place that helps kids who mothers are in prison — in order to donate “food, clothes and stationery in support of the children.”
But according to a letter written by AiK’s President Harrison Mumia to the Ministry of Labour, the Director of NEST called him up a couple of weeks ago to tell him his group would not be allowed inside the facility. A government official from the Ministry’s Children’s Department had called her up and “instructed her not to allow AIK to visit the children’s home.”
No explanation was given.
We want to take issue with the Director of Children’s Department, Kiambu, for what seems to be blatant discrimination against atheists in Kenya. The decision by the Children’s Department to stop atheists from visiting the NEST Children’s Home reeks of religious extremism and is in bad taste. It is a violation of our fundamental rights and freedoms. It goes against Article 32 (3) of the Kenyan Constitution, which states:
A person may not be denied access to any institution, employment or facility, or the enjoyment of any right, because of the person’s belief or religion.
We shall not allow atheists to be treated like second class citizens of this country by any individual, state organ or institution.
We are therefore asking your office to address this issue. As far as we are concerned, there is nothing wrong with atheists visiting any Children’s Home in Kenya.
No kidding, there’s nothing wrong with it. The government is so biased against atheists, they’re not even letting them help the needy. What’s the concern? People might get the impression that atheists are moral?
The director of NEST told a local news outlet that she had indeed been told by the government not to let the atheists in her facility:
“I am not the one who banned them. I received a call from the Children’s office in Kiambu and was directed not to allow them because they have a court case,” [Irene] Baumgartner said.
Even if the atheists aren’t legally recognized as an organization yet, it’s hard to imagine what government rule prevents good people from doing a good thing.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)