Wednesday February 27 2013

Banning fundraising in places of worship will be a big blunder

By JM Kavuma-Kaggwa

I was shocked to read in the Daily Monitor of February 5 that the government is “in the process of banning fundraising in places of worship, and instead incorporate financial requirements of registered churches and mosques in the national budgeting process.”

The announcement was made by the Minister of State for Youth and Children, Mr Ronald Kibuule, at a fundraising ceremony at Kamikiro village in Nakanyonyi parish, Bukoba in Kyaggwe, Mukono District.

Mr Kibuule was quoted to have said: “People have left churches and mosques because of the unending fundraisings, which directly means the work to rehabilitate and mould people’s morals has been jeopardised.” Personally, I have not heard of any Christians and Muslims who have abandoned their faith because of fundraising in places of worship. If the minister has done research in that regard, he should share the findings.

What shocked people even more was Kibuule’s closing remark that “President Museveni supported the new arrangement, and had asked managers of [places of worship] to be registered so as to be considered for financial support of their programmes”. Mark the word “considered”. My question is, what will happen to the churches and mosques that will not be successful in the “consideration process” and at the same time are not allowed to fundraise on their own?

If implemented, this policy will be a blunder because it will be a direct interference in the working of religious institutions and places of worship. Our problem is that we forget very quickly and we do not take time to think about issues seriously.

Looking at the history of Uganda, it is religion in general and Christianity in particular, that developed this country educationally, socially and economically in all spheres of life.

The British under the Church Missionary Society were the first to arrive in Uganda in 1877 and they formed an African Church – the Native Anglican Church and the Kabaka gave them Namirembe Hill. The Catholic White Fathers from France and Italy arrived here in 1879 and the Kabaka gave them Rubaga Hill. The British Catholics of the Mill Hill Fathers arrived in 1895.

There are two important historical factors which people, especially the young generation, should know. When the European missionaries arrived here, they embarked on building Christian missions throughout the country. They built schools, churches, hospitals, seminaries, technical schools and theological colleges. All the money which the missionaries used to build these institutions in Uganda came from England, France, Italy (The Vatican), Germany, Holland, Ireland and Canada.

When we achieved Independence in 1962, all this financial support was stopped. We no longer get that kind of assistance from those countries. All these churches, old and new, depend on what they collect from the Christians. The Muslims are in the same situation.

Also, when the local churches and mosques collect money from their followers, that money is purely for expansion. It is for building new schools, new churches, renovating the old ones, building accommodation for the clergy, the sheikhs, teachers, doctors, nurses and other church workers as well as relevant expenditure.

The minister talked of the government funding development programmes in the churches and mosques. I do not see how the government can do this. It is not even necessary because it will end up being similar to the free primary and secondary education where, I hear, a pupil in primary school receives Shs1,700 every month and a student in secondary schools receives Shs40,000, which is not enough.

Finally, I urge the government to guard against doing anything that will annoy the Almighty God and the Church. Remember, religious leaders in this country pray for the president, the government and all leaders, and the country to be peaceful and prosper all the time. The government can freely make a donation of cash or building materials to Christians and Muslims when they launch a development project in their areas, but must not ban fundraising in places of worship.

Mr Kavuma-Kaggwa is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono District. 0772-584423