A process to introduce a policy to regulate religious organizations in Uganda is in final stages sabasabaupdates has learnt.
Sources indicate that a stakeholder’s validation meeting that was held yesterday at Ridah Hotel in Seeta Mukono might have driven the last nail in the process to introduce a law that will amongst other things, require faith-based organizations and Churches to register with government, declare sources of funds, as well present accountability.
The meeting chaired by Ethics Minister Fr. Simon Lokodo and attended by almost all umbrella organizations of religious sects including BAF, NFBPC BAPTIST UNION, SDA, UMSC, Kibuli Muslim sect, COU, UOC, BAHAI FAITH and the Academia, made several resolutions on the policy and unanimously agreed that the law is a necessary requirement.
In his presentation, Fr. Lokodo noted that practical consultations on the policy have been conducted across all regions of Uganda, and officially handed over the draft copies of the policy to stakeholders who attended.
According to the draft policy, Government through the office of the RDC will recommend set up of new Churches, monitor, and even revoke licenses of RFBO’s if it deems the teachings are not in conformity with the legal framework.
The law also provides that anyone who preaches the word of God should attain some level of religious education.
“I met a pastor in Mbale who was refusing his followers to go to hospital. I met another in Karamoja preaching against education and going to school. This must be stopped and the proposed policy seeks to address such messes” said Fr. Lokodo.
The first time the news of the proposed national policy on religious and faith based organizations broke last year, it came as a shocker to many preachers especially among the Pentecostal community. Some of them even asked President Museveni to transfer Ethics and Integrity Minister Father Simon Lokodo to another ministry.
The policy critics particularly sections of born-again Christian leaders argue that the provisions in the law infringe on the right of worship and therefore the status quo should be maintained.
“I forgive all my brothers who called me all sorts of names and promised to report me to the president for passing the policy that intended to ‘erase their churches’ This was all false” Fr. Lokodo said.
During yesterday’s meeting, Fr. Lokodo however maintained that there is no policy yet but a draft for the formation process.
Several leaders in the mainstream denominations under the Umbrella Inter Religious Council of Uganda have welcomed the move.
Lokodo insists that there is a lot of extortion, exploitation of money, bad guidance and many other things in churches. He says, precautionary measures are vital if incidents like Kibwetere’s are to be avoided. Kibwetere was the Leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God hundreds of whose members perished in 2000 in a fire in what was described as a religious mass suicide
In response to the policy draft presentation, Muslims under UMSC welcomed the proposed framework as long as it is not intended to drive them from their faiths and truths.
A representative from Zoe Felowship of Prophet Elvis Mbonye raised objection over the move to have a policy in place, saying they don’t need it at all costs.
Hon. Barnabas Francis Gonahasa (legislator from opposition FDC) said it is a good move from a government he doesn’t support.
The academia also supported the move saying that it is a mandate of government to regulate anything in the country and therefore, a right move in the right direction.
1. No doubt, the policy is needed.
2. The name of the policy needs revision.
3. The historical background needs to be looked into analytically.
4. Definitions of religion and scope need clarification.
5. The scope should be redefined.
6. The RFBO board must be embraced.
7. Policy should clarify on the issue of umbrella networks.
8. Registration should be based on individual entity(ies) not umbrellas.