A Response to Dr Abraham K Waithima and Ed West

This is a brief and not highly detailed response to an article written by Gatonye Gathura and published in the Standard on Wednesday, July 10th 2013. Gatonye Gathura relies heavily on the work of Dr Abraham K Waithima and Ed West so I thought I should address my response to them. The title of the article in question was ‘Graft more common in Catholic strongholds, new survey finds.’ I promised that I would comment on this later on and here it is.

Research is at times a terrible discipline. If you begin with a bias then it is highly likely that you will end with a bias. You must be balanced from the beginning and through to the end of your study. A recent study by Dr Abraham K Waithima, a senior lecturer at Daystar University found that Catholics in Kenya are more prone to corruption than most other Christian denominations. The study is to say the least, fundamentally flawed and biased. It begins and ends with a bias.

The study tries to give weight to its argument by quoting the least corrupt countries as put forth by Transparency International. Dr. Waithima mentions Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Norway as mostly protestant countries that are at the top of least corrupt countries. However, Dr. Waithima fails to do his research a bit better. For instance, there are more Roman Catholics in Netherlands and Switzerland than Protestants. Australia is also a near Catholic majority country.

Secondly, did you also know that the Roman Catholic education infrastructure in Australia is only second to that of the Australian government? Dr. Waithima does not quote this in his study. I have brought it to light so that I can illustrate my second point. I believe that the same applies here in Kenya though I do not have the data. I believe that it even extends to the health sector among other sectors of the economy.

The good Dr. has failed to discuss the issue of the volume and value of Catholic institutions in Kenya. For instance, government is the most corrupt institution in Kenya as compared to other institutions in Kenya simply because it is the largest. Catholic managers handle more money, power and wealth than their Protestants counterparts do. They are more likely than Protestants to find themselves in situations where the exercise of their authority means a lot to them, the community and any other stakeholder.

In other words, the stakes are likely to be higher. In this regard, it is true that Catholics are more likely to be corrupt but only because the temptations that befall them are more challenging than those befalling their Protestant colleagues. It is therefore prudent that Dr. Waithima not only explains the symptom but what actually gives rise to the disease. The Dr. may even find that Protestants steal a lot of a little while Catholics steal a little of a lot. Either way, stealing in both denominations should stop.

Finally, the issue of economic decline mostly affecting Catholic countries by Ed West of the Daily Telegraph. The states facing decline in Europe are indeed Catholic countries. Again, we could be addressing a symptom and not the disease. We must at first look at who actually owns the world’s wealth. Let us assume that it is a given group of people. Will the global economic decline and/or shift likely affect these people over and above other groups?

For example, Roman Catholicism is the most widespread religious denomination in Europe. You think of the United Kingdom a protestant majority country and I will think of Germany, a near Catholic majority country. What we should be looking at is Europe . The continent of Europe is failing and since it has more Catholics than Protestants then it is easy to spot white in a piece of paper that has little writing.

This is why there is an important difference between correlation and regression in economics. Correlation may imply the existence of a relationship either positive or negative. This is what the studies of Dr. Waithima and Ed West have done. However, there is nothing to prove causality. A cough is  a symptom of AIDS. It is also a symptom of a common cold. We must investigate further before we draw conclusions.

Other factors other than Catholicism itself may explain the corruption and decline of Catholic institutions and countries. Researchers must stop limiting themselves to what they want to see and actually look at what is there.  They may even find that other religious orders if exposed to the same circumstances may actually do much worse.

You may also want to view the following article. Please click on the link below to find out more:


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