Adventist Logo Adventist Logo Adventist Logo


Schoolchildren attending a class in Kenya. Several Adventist students had been expelled for failing to take exams or attend classes on Sabbath, says Samuel Makori, former executive secretary of the church’s Kenya Union. (ECD / Adventist Review / IRLA)

Adventist Students in Kenya Celebrate Sabbath Victory

The court ruling excuses Adventist students from classes and other activities on Saturday.

By Bettina Krause, communication director, International Religious Liberty Association

A five-year legal battle for the right to keep Sabbath has ended in a landmark victory for Seventh-day Adventist students in Kenya.

The country’s top appeals court ruled last week that the religious freedom provisions of Kenya’s constitution require that Adventist students be excused from classes and other school-related activities on Saturday. The decision overturns an earlier ruling that found no constitutional protection for Sabbath-keeping students.

“The Adventist students and parents have received this ruling with great joy,” said Joel Okindoh, public affairs and religious liberty director for the Adventist Church’s in East-Central Africa Division. “For them, it is an answer from God to many years of prayers.”

Okindoh said that church leaders in Kenya view the ruling as a tremendous victory for religious freedom and an affirmation of constitutional rights not only for Adventists, but for all Kenyans who may face similar challenges in the future.

The journey to last week’s court decision has been both long and difficult, said Adventist Church leaders in Kenya. The church took the Education Ministry to court in 2012 after mediation efforts failed to provide relief for Adventist students. Samuel Makori, then-executive secretary of the church’s Kenya Union, said the legal action was undertaken in a “loyal and patriotic” manner and was aimed only at securing protections already enshrined in Kenya’s bill of rights. He reported that several Adventist students had been expelled for failing to take exams or attend classes on Sabbath.

In 2013, however, Kenya’s top court dismissed the case, ruling that the constitution does not require Sabbath accommodation for Adventist students. In his decision, Justice Isaac Lenaola said such exemptions would cause chaos in the education system.

The church appealed the decision, pointing out that Sunday-keeping students already received a day off for worship and that the religious freedom rights of Sabbath-keeping students were being violated. In its legal argument, the church told the court that “Adventist students were and are being denied the right to practice their faith in accordance with the fundamental tenets of their religion.”

On Friday, March 3, a three-judge panel of Kenya’s Appeals Court ruled that Adventist students have the right to worship on Saturday, and it ordered the Education Ministry to rework its policies to eliminate conflict between education and religion in schools.

Next Story

My Hope Burns Bright After Wife Left Church The reason for my hope are miracles involving a knife and an old apple tree.

Previous Story

Surprises Abound When a Church Prays for Missing Sheep An unexpected meeting in a supermarket and an out-of-state letter help a pastor reconnect with missing members.

More Recent News

A “Nature Station” in the City In Latvia, Adventists aren’t afraid to try creative approaches to ministry. This quarter a portion of your 13th Sabbath Offering will create a new urban center of influence in the capital city of Riga! Have You Checked Your Health? Urban mission in Serbia, a center of influence in Latvia and health outreach in Slovenia. Join us as we explore mission around the world! Redefining “Sanctuary” Ruslana and her family are among the millions of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Few know where they will end up. Adventist churches across Europe are redefining what it means for a church to be a sanctuary. ADRA supports their efforts to take in thousands of refugees. Healing Physical and Emotional Needs Camporee connections in Latvia, conversion through singing hymns in Ghana, and an urban center of influence in Jaipur, India. Join us as we explore mission around the world! More Than a Meal On a busy street along the coast of Montenegro, an Adventist-owned vegan restaurant prepares for the lunch rush. Operating a restaurant such as this one creates the opportunity to talk with customers about a variety of topics. Mission Unusual Tokyo A Pioneer Life for Me A Global Mission pioneer in Botswana tells his story.