Government together with religious institutions is formulating a policy that will regulate the establishment of new churches.
According to the director of religious affairs in the Office of the President, Rev Canon Aaron Mwesigye, the move is an answer to growing public concern over the mushrooming churches, some of whose values contradict teaching of the Bible and the Koran.
“There is a lot of manipulation and exploitation of the poor to raise money to enrich individuals who head the churches. Some of them are causing insecurity,” Canon Mwesigye said.
He said government is currently consulting several religious leaders across the country so as to come up with an all-inclusive policy which will then be tabled before Cabinet.
“The policy will put in place a vetting mechanism to recommend the new churches for registration and we are targeting November to have a draft ready. The draft will be sent to Cabinet for review and deciding on whether to introduce it in Parliament as a Bill,” Mwesigye said.
He added that the new policy also seeks to centralize the registration of religious institutions under one secretariat.
Mwesigye said some religious institutions are registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act which is under the ministry of Lands while others are registered as companies limited by guarantee under the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
The move is likely to resurrect earlier protests by a section of believers, who early this year protested against a government proposal to formulate a national faith-based organisation policy to provide standard guidelines on starting churches, describing it as a move to infringe on freedom of worship.
The group led by Joseph Kabuleta of “The Watchman Ministry”, a Pentecostal fellowship, signed a petition and submitted to the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President.
“Rather than taking the destructive historical path of state control and restraint reminiscent of banning evangelical and Pentecostal faith entities in the 1970s, we implore the government, through this petition to adhere to the post -1995 Constitutional governance dispensation that embraces diversity and religious freedom within the confines of acceptable religion..,” said Kabuleta.
However, Mwesigye disowned the then draft policy, saying that they were still consulting the different stakeholders after which, they would draft the policy.