Pentecostal church leaders have vowed to stage a protest if Ethics Minister Fr Simon Lokodo goes ahead with passing a policy that seeks to regulate their activities.
The proposed policy, which is being vetted by a select committee before it is presented before Cabinet, seeks to vet and recommend the registration of religious organizations under one body as well as putting in place measures aimed at instituting minimum qualifications of theology for one to be a pastor.
But under their umbrella body, the National Pastors Platform of Uganda (NPPU), the Pentecostal church in their petition to Fr Lokodo leaders said the policy is aimed at suffocating the Born Again faith.
On the particular clause of registering under one umbrella body by government, the leaders said this is not possible given that each religious body is different from the other.
“We feel the government is not too weak to monitor its ministries. Each of the three registration centres is in a separate ministry with a reason. There will never be a one stop registration centre. In regard to accountability, the registration bodies have enough mandate to address the issues because each RFBO [Religious and Faith Based Organisation] 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,” the pastors said in their petition.
The draft policy indicates that government will regulate Religious and Faith-Based Organizations (RFBOs) on having one legislative body to harmonise their operations, ensure coordination and monitoring RFBOs existing in three different legal frameworks and put in place mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability.
Other regulations in the draft law include registration of all RFBOs, clarity on their roles and functions versus the State, strengthening partnerships with government and promotion of unity and cooperation among them.
The Pentecostal church leaders indicate that while they are not opposed to the idea of government demanding theological training as a minimum requirement for one to be a religious leader, the requirement waters down the whole essence of their mission, which is spiritual than mental.
But Fr Lokodo said the policy is not targeting the Born Again faith but only aimed at doing away with those pastors who dupe Christians.
“It is unfortunate that my brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal church are getting it wrong thinking that the policy is targeting them; this is cutting across all religions,” he said.