LUWEERO. State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Fr Simon Lokodo has denied ever issuing a statement confirming the existence of a faith-based policy meant to regulate faith based organizations.
Fr Lokodo says the people circulating the half-baked information regarding the ongoing consultations on a policy framework which government commissioned under the Directorate of Ethics and integrity led by Rev Aron Mwesigye are enemies of the faith-based organizations who do not want to tell the truth but want to incite the different faiths against each other for reasons known to themselves.
“I was surprised when I got information that some people were using my name to make pronouncements full of falsehoods. Government has not come up with any policy regarding the regulation of faith-based organizations. I put a disclaimer on this false information because what is in place is the ongoing country-wide consultations regarding a policy framework for faith-based organizations,” Fr Lokodo said, adding that: “A policy has particular stages and can only be complete after the Parliament, Cabinet and the President finally endorse it. Nobody should take the responsibility of spreading information which is not true. I know that Churches have different leaders and no particular leader can claim to represent all the churches on this matter.”
Fr Lokodo who was addressing more than 500 pastors attending a church retreat under the National Born Again Pentecostal Churches at Ndejje University main campus in Luweero District on Thursday said that he has no powers designated to regulate religious activities.
The other salient issues within the policy framework which will be handled is the behavior of some individuals hiding behind freedom of worship to inflict harm, rob property among other acts which are criminal in nature.
“This is where we want to involve you church leaders as we try to come up with a policy framework. We need your input as church leaders. Government will not watch over some of these dangerous acts including the direct abuse of the faithful in the name of religion. Some of the Church leaders now attach all their preaching on giving money at the expense of many other important aspects of life,” Lokodo told the Born again pastors.
Bishop Joshua Lwere, the General Overseer for the National Born Again Pentecostal Churches said the circulating information both on mainstream and social media platforms which claimed the law was already in place is the reason for the harsh statements which were directed at the Minister.
He added that the timing of the information was perceived as a calculated move to witch-hunt the born again churches.
“We are surprised to learn that the law is not in place. It is also not true that the Born again pastors and church leaders are against education. The packaging of the information was very threatening. It is good that the Minister himself has cleared the air. We shall support government in the ongoing consultations to have a policy framework, Bishop Lwere said on Thursday.
In late December 2018, a section of Pentecostal Church pastors under their umbrella body, National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches, during their end of year press conference blamed government for trying to lock them out of the ongoing consultations regarding the church regulation policy. They claimed that the new policy was targeting the growing number of Born again churches in Uganda.