This newspaper this week reported that the National Pastors’ Platform of Uganda (NPPU), a body that brings all Born Again/ Pentecostal church leaders together, has rejected the proposed national policy for religious and faith-based organisations (RFBO), saying it is aiming at killing their faith.
The government, through the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity, has embarked on drafting and developing a national policy for religious and faith-based organisations aimed at enhancing collaboration and streamlining cooperation between government and religious organisations in service delivery to the citizens.
Government in its draft Bill is proposing a minimum theological training for pastors, among others. Father Simon Lokodo, the Ethics State minister, notes that: “Some pastors wake up in the morning and tell their faithful that God told them through a dream to raise certain amount of money, they extort from poor Ugandans and perform fake miracles. We shall not tolerate these.” This is an issue that should be addressed.
The pastors’ point of departure is that there is already sufficient coordination and monitoring structures and, therefore, there is no need for another law. In their 60-page petition responding to the minister, the pastors say: “We feel the government is not too weak to monitor its ministries… In regard to accountability, the registration bodies have enough mandate to address the issues because each RFBO files annual returns, so accountability is in place. We advise government to enforce the current laws to suit the gaps in the current legal framework but not come up with a new law.”
If indeed there is nothing for NPPU to hide, they should support the Bill because it will eliminate quacks among them. We have witnessed a number of “pastors” popping up, with questionable integrity, climbing onto the pulpit to preach, many times misinterpreting the Bible to their benefit. For a calling like ministering the word of God, requires sufficient knowledge of the Bible for proper guidance of the flock. In terms of complimenting government in service delivery to the citizens, faith-based organisations have been at the forefront of establishing schools and hospitals around the country, which is commendable.
Therefore, a law that wants to streamline the relationship between government and religions must be viewed in the light of ensuring operations are haphazard and not telling off the minister is unwarranted.
Pastor David Kiganda, president of NPPU, even puts it better: “The government should see that they partner with churches in the communities because they have fought crime through transforming of the community members. They should actually fund our programmes because we have since proved to be more effective than the police in fighting crime.”