MP in push to have church accounts audited

Auditor General Edward Ouko. [Photo, Standard]

A motion seeking to have accounts of churches audited has been tabled in the National Assembly in what could trigger a fight between religious institutions and the state.

The motion by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano wants the office of the Attorney General to examine bank accounts of the institution as part of regulation mechanism.

The lawmaker argues that the taxman and the general public have fallen prey to “fraudulent and unscrupulous” pastors running unregulated churches sprouting across the country.

The MP says there was need to regulate registration of the institutions as well as vetting of religious leaders.

Should the House pass the motion, the AG Paul Kihara would be required to undertake an audit of the institutions and submit a report to the House within 90 days.

“The Office of the Attorney General (upon passage of the motion) undertakes an audit of all religious institutions in Kenya, including examining their bank accounts and qualifications of the religious leaders, with a view of formulating self-regulatory mechanisms,” says the document.

The MP claims that churches have been turned into business ventures, stating that the push for regulations will end mushrooming of churches.

He says lack of regulatory mechanisms have seen unscrupulous pastors hijack the process of registration.

He said there were so many churches run by family members, with the husband serving as a bishop, wife as archdeacon and daughter or son as the treasurer.

The lawmaker says there must be set standards, requirements for one to establish a church as well as qualifications for one to serve as a pastor.

He says the country has been experiencing a proliferation and emergence of cults and sects under guise of religious institutions.

Already a section of evangelical churches have opposed the fresh push to regulate them, and demanded that they be involved in coming up with a law in streamlining the operations of churches.

It is not the first time there is a push to regulate religious institutions.

In 2017, the churches were up in arms over demands by the Registrar of Societies for them to submit their audited accounts for scrutiny.

A similar attempt in 2016 to make it a requirement that every pastor should have a minimum qualification of knowledge in theology was also opposed by the Pentecostal and evangelical churches.

They had also opposed to annual membership in their churches over claims that it would block worshippers from attending services at the churches of their choice.

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AG Paul KiharaAuditor General Edward Ouko.Auditing Churches