Religious leaders protest against proposed policy to regulate churches

Christians pray at a Pentecostal Church in Lira City in 2023. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

What you need to know:

  • ICAD leaders have denounced policy developers for basing on isolated incidents. 

A section of religious leaders and lawyers under their umbrella body International Centre for religious Advocacy and development (ICAD) have protested the proposed government policy to regulate churches.

 Addressing journalists in Kampala ICAD director Wisdom Peter Katumba argued that the contentious policy was unnecessary, saying “religious based organisation have ability to regulate themselves.”

“The proposed policy is intended to tighten oversight of the clergy and congregations by the government and bring religion under direct political control of the reigning president,” he observed.

“Like the Uganda Martyrs, we shall stand strong and firm to the last drop of our blood until the policy is dropped,” he added.  

The move to regulate national Religious and Faith Organisations (RFOs) is spearheaded by the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity in the office of the president, seeking to register all churches.

The policy also aims to task church leaders and preachers to undergo formal training.

But Katumba said “the perpetrators of this policy are enemies and saboteurs of the President Museveni led National Resistance Movement (NRM).”

Simon Ssenyonga, another director at ICAD, denounced policy developers for basing on isolated incidents

“These isolated cases lack justified scientific or statistical proof,” he said.

He added: “They make reference of vagabond rebel groups like Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Al-Shabab, Kibwetere movement, Lakwena movement and the Lord’s Resistance Army. It is very clear that to them, RFOs to which 99 percent of Ugandan subscribe, are nothing more than potential anti-government rebel groups that must be nipped.”

Church of Uganda Anglican priest Rev Stephen Bamutungire said “the proposed policy creates oppression and pressure hindering freedom of worship.”

“Historically, we have had such things happening, not only during the martyrs’ story of 1886. We also saw that in 1977, when we were celebrating 100 years of the Christian faith. Idi Amin came up as a Muslim leader and during those celebrations six young people were put to death by Idi Amin’s government,” Rev Bamutungire claimed.

He added: “Then, the story of Archbishop Janani Luwum who was also put to death by Idi Amin forces.”

Former Soroti legislator Angeline Osege said: “Regulating how you should pay tithe, and obey God is evil, undesired and not right. It is true there are fraudsters everywhere, but we shall not bend low.”

According to official government data, majority of Uganda’s 45million population subscribe to RFOs.