Raila opposes proposed regulations for religious organisations

Wednesday January 13 2016

Cord leader Raila Odinga met with clerics from different evangelical churches at his office on January 13, 2015.

Cord leader Raila Odinga met with clerics from different evangelical churches at his office on January 13, 2015. PHOTO | AGGREY MUTAMBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Cord leader Raila Odinga has sided with evangelical churches and reiterated his party's absolute opposition to proposed regulations for religious organisations.

The former prime minister met with clerics from different evangelical churches at his office, after which he declared there is no need for the laws at all.

Mr Odinga argued religion and the State must forever remain separate, saying an attempt to regulate churches or mosques would be like repairing something that is not broken.

Attorney-General Githu Muigai this week published controversial draft regulations that, among others, demand that all clerics have requisite training, have registered members and submit tax reports to the government.

But Mr Odinga said: "Who trained John the Baptist? Who trained Paul? Religion is a calling. Taxing the church is double taxation," he said referring to the biblical apostles.

"Registration can only be required if a fellowship wants to operate as a recognised institution. Religious organisations should regulate themselves."

Though President Uhuru Kenyatta later directed that the rules be withdrawn to get views from religious organisations, evangelical leaders argued there should be no consultations on regulating them.

Bishop Imoite Papa, the Nairobi secretary for the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, said all the areas the government wants to regulate will be targeting the church in totality.

Mr Odinga said the structure of the church or any other religious organisation in Kenya already operates under certain laws and it makes no sense to make new regulations.

"If someone has broken the law by committing fraud in the church, we already have laws to punish those people. Let us not generalise religious leaders," he said.

Already, Catholics, Pentecostal churches, evangelicals and the Cord coalition have opposed the regulations despite the AG's defence of them.