Telegraph, Nick Wadhams 15 Oct 2008
A Kenyan pastor who prayed to protect Vice- Presidential candidate Sarah Palin from witches is being criticised at home after it emerged that his chief claim to power – that he forced an evil, spell- casting woman from town – was false.
Bishop Thomas Muthee staked his early reputation in the town of Kiambu on boasts that he banished a witch named Mama Jane, whom he blamed for crime, traffic accidents and public drunkenness in town. Once she fled, Muthee claimed, her spell was broken and peace returned.Sarah Palin prayed with Muthee in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska in 2005.
In fact, Mama Jane never left. She is a pastor just down the road from Muthee’s Word of Faith Church.
“Muthee was saying that this was a place of witch doctors – where do you see the witch?” said
Mama Jane, whose real name is Jane Njenga.
Muthee’s claims tap into a powerful belief system across Africa. Evangelical Christian churches have become incredibly popular – there are 500 churches in Kiambu alone – but some religious leaders still exploit their followers’ traditional belief in witchcraft and sorcery.
It is clearly boom times for Muthee’s church. A 5,000-seat complex is under construction and a 12,000 seat auditorium is planned.
Muthee spends much of his time these days traveling the world delivering sermons. Mrs Palin, John McCain’s running mate, prayed with Muthee in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska in 2005.
He asked God to protect Palin from “every form of witchcraft,” and to bring help her way. She later credited him with helping her to win the job of governor of Alaska.
Rival pastors in Kiambu now denounce Muthee for his treatment of Mama Jane.
“You cannot make personal gain on crucifying a woman,” said an ally of Mama Jane, Pastor Gideon Maina. “As a man of God, you don’t make your name by stepping on other people’s names.”
A pastor at Muthee’s church who identified himself as Patrick would not discuss Muthee’s claims about Mama Jane. But he said there was no question that witches roam the Earth.
“We don’t go seeking witches, but we know there are witches all around the world, even in America,” he said.