Kenya’s High Court has issued an interim order for public schools to exempt Seventh-day Adventist students from attending classes on Saturday, the day Adventists observe as the biblical Sabbath.
The immediate order comes during a case involving the Adventist Church’s Kenya Union Mission against the Ministry of Education and 26 schools it said have not followed constitutional guarantee of practicing one’s religion. The court’s presiding justice will address the case again on June 6.
“We as leaders of the Kenya Union are happy and satisfied with the court case’s progress now that the educational institutional leaders will respect the constitution and stop denying Adventist students public service that the government intends to offer all Kenyans,” said Samuel Makori, executive secretary of the Kenya Union. “We hope the judge will rule in our favor because we are asking for what is provided in the bill of rights in our constitution.”
Makori said church leaders took the matter to court in July of 2012 only after extensive diplomatic efforts didn’t work.
“We engaged Adventist lawyers who handled the case both with patriotism and loyalty to their country,” he said.
Makori told The Standard newspaper that several students have been suspended at public schools for not attending classes and exams held on Saturday. “We paid legal expenses from church money so we could obtain justice for our young people,” he later said.
Adventists observe Sabbath from sunset on Fridays to sunset on Saturdays.
Steve Bina, Communication director for the Adventist Church’s East-Central Africa Division, said he hoped the ruling would be an example for other countries to follow. Bina said Adventist students in several other countries within the division are experiencing similar problems with some public school officials.