Religious Leaders, Lawyers Protest Proposed Government Policy on Churches

Redeemed Gospel Church, a Pentecostal church in the Kisaasi suburb of Kampala, Uganda

Summary:

  • Religious leaders and lawyers from ICAD oppose Uganda’s proposed church regulation, arguing it’s unnecessary and could politicize religion. They reject linking religious groups to rebel movements and emphasize the right to worship freely.

KAMPALA, (Examiner) – A coalition of religious leaders and legal experts, represented by the International Centre for Religious Advocacy and Development (ICAD), has voiced opposition to a government proposal aimed at regulating churches. Speaking to reporters in Kampala, ICAD Director Wisdom Peter Katumba argued against the necessity of the controversial policy, asserting that religious organizations are capable of self-regulation.

Katumba criticized the policy’s purported intention to increase government oversight of clergy and congregations, suggesting it could politicize religion and consolidate control under the current president. He emphasized ICAD’s determination to resist the policy, drawing parallels to the resolve of the Uganda Martyrs.

The initiative to regulate Religious and Faith Organizations (RFOs) is led by the Directorate of Ethics and Integrity within the president’s office, with a focus on registering all churches and mandating formal training for church leaders and preachers.

However, Katumba labeled the proponents of the policy as adversaries of President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), rejecting their reliance on isolated incidents and associating RFOs with rebel groups without evidence.

Simon Ssenyonga, another ICAD director, criticized the policy developers for using unsubstantiated claims and historical instances to justify their measures, characterizing RFOs as potential threats to the government.

Anglican priest Rev. Stephen Bamutungire condemned the proposed policy as oppressive, citing historical instances of religious persecution under past regimes, such as Idi Amin’s targeting of Christians.

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Former legislator Angeline Osege denounced the regulation of religious practices as unjust, asserting that while fraud exists, it should not justify government interference in matters of faith.

Government statistics indicate that the majority of Uganda’s population, estimated at 45 million, are affiliated with RFOs.

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