The proposed Bill by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano is a step in the right direction but one that also threatens to open a Pandora's box
It is not the first time attempts are being made to regulate the church, neither is it true that the activities of the church in this country are not regulated
The proposed Bill by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano which aims at weeding out rogue pastors and churches is a step in the right direction but one that also threatens to open a Pandora's box. It is not the first time attempts are being made to regulate the church, neither is it true that the activities of the church in this country are not regulated.
All religious organisations are required, by law, to be registered with the Government under the Societies Act and also to file annual returns plus those of their branches. At the same time, no church leader is allowed to preside over any marriage ceremony without a license from the registrar of marriages at the Attorney General’s office. Still, various laws requiring certain amount of money to be paid to County governments before crusades or outdoor meetings are held have been passed.
In addition, there are National Environment Management Authority regulations to be observed. The Kenya Revenue Authority also requires churches to remit taxes except in areas where the tax exemption law applies. As such, Mr Kigano's Bill, if it sails through, will be yet another way of enhancing the already existing laws and regulations on the operations of religious organisations.
Some of the MP's proposals, such as the ones requiring religious organisations to furnish an umbrella regulatory body with the actual location they intend to operate from and details of their leaderships, already exist.
The proposal that the church’s leadership should not consist of family members is a tricky one. Most of the mega churches that people celebrate today began in families. It was the immediate family members of the pioneering pastors who initially invested huge sums of money and resources for the churches to pick up.
Therefore, to insist that church leaderships exclude family members is to kill the very essence of the church. The Bill seeks to set the minimum qualification for one to practice. This is welcome. But we must remember that church officials are not State officials, their training must not necessarily be that which makes them qualified to secure jobs with the Government.
They just need to be skilled and competent in their Christian Ministry. The law should always be directed towards achieving the common good of all. As such, attempts to ensure the well-functioning of religious bodies through the law should be encouraged. The process should be consultative or it might negate its benefits.
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