Dr Stephen Kapinde

Project title: ‘Queer Mission in an Anti-Queer Nation’: Emerging African Queer Religious Knowledge from the Bride of the Lamb Ministries International Church in Kenya

Abstract

This project seeks to systematically explore the construction of ‘African queer religious knowledge both in theory and practices’ towards the emancipation of the LGBTQI community in Kenya. Religious knowledges, beliefs and practices shape the understanding and response to the global challenges facing LGBTQI communities. However, in Africa, extant literature on African queer religious knowledge points to a negative campaign propagated by mainstream religious groups and supported by some governments through punitive legislations. Thus, Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religions, in unholy ‘trinitarian alliance’ and through their ‘moral theologies’ continue to influence the social norms and public discourse on LGBTQI people. Contrastingly, in a country such as Kenya, ‘‘where religion is predominantly used to reinforce and legitimise homophobia’’ (van Klinken & Chitado, 2016), queer clerics such as Apostle Darlan Rukih of the Bride of the Lamb Ministries International (BLMI-C) have emerged as a ‘prophetic voice’, demystifying the stereotypes inherent in the mainstream religious LGBTQI discourse. Openly identifying as intersex, Apostle Darlan through songs, speeches and public sermons has creatively and innovatively utilised African values, spirituality and religious logics as a ‘powerful counterforce’ to the anti-queer debate. The empirical study seeks: First, to systematically explore the construction of ‘African queer religious knowledge and practices’ in the emancipation of the LGBTQI community in Kenya; second, to establish how the BLMI-C queer the contemporary Kenyan society both in theory and practice and by extension address global challenges facing the LGBTQI community in Africa? And, finally, to explore relevant subversive approaches for social change that can be drawn from the pastoral and contextual theological activities of Apostle Darlan Rukih and BLMI-C in mainstreaming of queer Christianity in the public sphere?

Keywords: Africa, Apostle Darlan Rukih, BLMI-C, Christianity, Kenya, LGBTQI, Queer and Religious knowledge.

Biography

Stephen Kapinde is a Franz Humer scholar with a PhD in Theology (insigni cum laude) from the University of Basel. His doctoral thesis on Church and State Relations in Post-Colonial Kenya (1963-2013) won the Faculty of Theology award as the best dissertation of the 2019 academic year. He has taught Religion and Global politics both in Africa and Europe. Kapinde is interested in religion, politics and public life. Currently, he is working on Religion and Global challenges focusing on LQBTI and Queer Christianity in Kenya as part of the LUCAS/LAHRI virtual research fellowship scheme “African Knowledge for Global Challenges.’’

Twitter: @Mckapinde

Working with: Prof. Adriaan van Klinken