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UPDATE: In Kenya, Adventist Attempts to Baptize Obama’s Grandmother in Limbo

UPDATE: As SPECTRUM mentioned in our original post, these details are sketchy. Of course, that didn’t stop a few folks from fitting this report about Obama’s Grandmother into preexisting narratives. Not only that, but the conservative Christian press fanned the sectarian flames with headlines like “Christians lose battle for Sarah Obama’s soul.”


According to information from the East African Union Mission, the Seventh-day Adventist Church representatives in Nairobi, the press got the story significantly wrong.

1. Mama Sarah Obama has both Muslim and Seventh-day Adventist relatives. Apparently she had accepted the invitation from the Adventist family members to join them in attending the closing ceremony of the evangelistic series. Other family members who are Muslim urged her not to attend.

2. Local Adventist leadership in concert with civic and religious leaders, including Muslims leaders, have requested that the Kenyan news organization correct the record. They are emphasizing that this is centered in the family, not a battle between faiths. They have taken this message to the airwaves, including on Radio Lake Victoria and Radio Ramogi FM.

Furthermore, Ray Dabrowski, Director of Communication for the Seventh-day Adventist Church states: Seventh-day Adventists uphold the value of religious liberty for everyone.

Emphasizing that coercion has no place in Seventh-day Adventist evangelism, Dabrowski notes that Adventists uphold everyone’s right to freedom of conscience.

The report from the East African Union Mission in Nairobi adds that the so-called Obama Seventh Day Adventist Church will go back to being called The Nyang’oma Seventh Day Adventist Church (sic).

And just in my own reading up on things, I’d add that it appears that publicity hungry folks seem to be exploiting this elderly woman. According to yesterday’s Daily Nation, a billionaire has claimed that he is sponsoring Mama Sarah to attend the Hajj this Fall.


The amended previous post:

I want to emphasize that this news is still breaking and so the exact details are sketchy. SPECTRUM has requested some analysis from Kenya experts and we’ll update the blog as more information arrives.

Because the Kenyan Daily Nation story contains misleading statements, SPECTRUM will now only provide a link to it.

(It is important to note that Mama Sarah Obama does not appear in this picture.)

The Kenyan relatives of US President Barack Obama (from right), Norah Otieno, Consolata Oguma and Raphael Sidede with visiting Australian evangelist John Jeremic during a service organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church (sic) at the Kenyatta Sports Ground in Kisumu on Saturday.

According to the blog, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion,

“A February report in an Adventist magazine called Record adds some further details:

According to Dr John Jeremic, director of Amazing Discoveries, “If Mrs Obama’s plans and prayers are realised, she will be baptised during an Amazing Discoveries Crusade planned for the west Kenyan re-gion in March.”

Dr Jeremic, along with Central Nyansa Field secretary Pastor Tom Obuya, visited Mrs Obama in November, 2008. “We had a warm welcome, finding Mrs Obama andher grandson, Raphael, in the house,” saysPastor Obuya. “Despite the fact that we’d made no appointment, Jesus made every-thing possible for us.”

Dr Jeremic says, “Mrs Obama was a delightful and gracious lady. She lives in a neat home, with many photos of her family around her.”

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