Githu Muigai defends govt stand on church regulation

Tuesday January 12 2016

By NATION TEAM
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The government has defended itself against accusations that it wants to curtail worship.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai said the Religious Societies Rules were meant to address challenges of the 21st century.

“The government has no intention to restrict the operations of religious institutions,” Prof Muigai said in a statement to newsrooms yesterday.

The regulations, he said, were reached following consultations with various stakeholders.

The rules demand that religious leaders must possesses theological qualifications and introduced agencies that would promote self-regulation.

During a press briefing on Monday, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya said it would collect three million signatures to stop the AG from tabling the rules.

Cord co-principal Kalonzo Musyoka also condemned the government’s move. Mr Musyoka said attempts by Jubilee “to muzzle” freedom of worship “shows the appetite by ruling class to claw back the gains the supreme law had bestowed on Kenyans”.

“It is clear that the Jubilee administration has no regard for the freedom of worship,” he said.

The Orange Democratic Movement also asked the government to drop the plan. The opposition party’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday held its first meeting this year at Orange House.

“We shall resist the attempt to constrict freedom of worship,” ODM said in a statement read by Secretary-General Ababu Namwamba.

Mombasa bishops condemned the rules too. Meeting under the banner of Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches and Ministries, the leaders said the rules targeted evangelical churches. “We are opposed to these rules and will do all it takes to stop their implementation,” they said in a statement read by Bishop Tee Nalo at the Praise Chapel in Kizingo.

Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops said the regulations were a hindrance to freedom of worship and an attempt by the government to micromanage worship.

In a statement signed by 26 bishops, the church said if implemented, the law would have a negative impact on the church’s evangelisation mission.

The statement added that there was a clear demarcation between the church and the state as enshrined in the Constitution.

Reported by Samuel Karanja, Jeremiah Kiplang’at and Daniel Nyassy.