NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has accused the government of plotting to micro-manage the activities of the church through proposed new regulations.
The bishops lament that the church was sidelined during the formulation of the regulations which they say contain unrealistic and untenable requirements.
Addressing a press briefing on Tuesday, the conference chairman Rt. Rev Philip Anyolo specifically said they were against the requirement for different faiths to keep updated registers where they say the work of winning souls for Christ is an ongoing task.
“Further to that, the new rules give the registrar sweeping powers, including the power to invade churches to conduct impromptu audit,” he said.
“This is, to say the least, a license for the government to violate constitutionally guaranteed freedom of worship.”
The bishops have called on the government to consult widely before implementing the regulations so that they can serve the intended purpose of weeding out rogue preachers.
Anyolo says if indeed the government was genuine in formulating the rules, it should have consulted widely with all religious leaders in the country.
He said the Constitution of Kenya draws “a very clear line between the State and religion. The same constitution is also explicitly clear on the freedom of worship, which is enshrined in the document.”
He wondered: “How then does the government purport to regulate how Kenyans worship?”
They say the demand that all faiths register followers will only serve to convert churches into mere registration centres instead of citadels of hope and faith for millions of Kenyans.
He however admitted that there was a problem that needs to be addressed but in a way that does not contravene the constitution.
“While we acknowledge the government’s concerns about reported cases where persons purporting to be shepherds of the flock have grossly abused duties and responsibilities placed on them, it is our opinion that these new rules will not adequately address such cases,” he acknowledged.