Re­li­gion in Uganda Should Be Reg­u­lated

By: AL­LAN KI­NANI

From a pas­tor who has sold tick­ets to heaven for a stag­ger­ing 500 US dol­lars as­sur­ing his con­gre­ga­tion of a judg­ment-free en­try to heaven, to one who claimed to ring God on the phone to help him solve a wom­an’s prob­lem. Re­li­gious lead­ers and pas­tors have over the years done ob­nox­ious things in an at­tempt to fraud their con­gre­ga­tion.

On Wednes­day 30th Jan­u­ary of 2019, Man­jiya County Leg­is­la­tor, John Bap­tist Nambeshe moved a mo­tion seek­ing leave to in­tro­duce a Pri­vate Mem­bers’ Bill, the Re­li­gious Or­gan­i­sa­tions Bill, 2019. The Bill seeks to es­tab­lish which re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions are reg­is­tered and to en­sure that these or­ga­ni­za­tions are gov­erned by one body. The de­bate on the floor of the house was heated and when the ques­tion was put to pass­ing the mo­tion, the house did not have quo­rum which com­pelled the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Re­becca Kadaga to de­fer the mat­ter to the next day.

On Thurs­day 31st Jan­u­ary, MP John Bap­tist Nambeshe with­drew his mo­tion seek­ing leave to in­tro­duce the bill say­ing that it had re­ceived mas­sive op­po­si­tion and sparked con­tro­versy. These events got me ask­ing; is re­li­gion un­touch­able in this coun­try? For how long shall we look on as un­sus­pect­ing con­men hide in the cloak of re­li­gion and ma­nip­u­late Ugan­dans?

In Rwanda, me­dia re­ported that more than 700 churches and some mosques were closed in March 2018. Rwan­dan gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials moved to in­sti­tute guide­lines for how faith groups op­er­ate and a draft law was pre­sented in Par­lia­ment that re­quires Chris­t­ian and Mus­lim cler­ics to at­tain uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion be­fore preach­ing in churches or mosques. The law would re­quire cler­ics to have a bach­e­lor’s de­gree and a valid cer­tifi­cate in re­li­gious stud­ies.

It’s a pub­lic se­cret that wor­ship cen­ters are grow­ing rather fast and ex­ploit­ing peo­ple who are blinded by the be­lief in a su­per­nat­ural be­ing. They ma­nip­u­late these peo­ple to fol­low what­ever is preached with blind obe­di­ence, cut­ting out log­i­cal think­ing, leav­ing them prone to end­less ex­ploita­tion. The masses def­i­nitely need to have some con­trol over re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions and be able to sue the Church or Mosque and re­li­gious lead­ers who are sus­pected of ex­ploit­ing them.

As a coun­try, we need to have every re­li­gious prac­ti­tioner reg­is­tered and with a spec­i­fied lo­ca­tion where they con­duct re­li­gious cer­e­monies. Re­li­gion should be held to the stan­dard of any other ca­reer prac­tice like med­i­cine, the law, and bank­ing and thus have reg­u­la­tions sanc­tion­ing it.

This set of laws and reg­u­la­tions should be used to mon­i­tor and in­ter­ro­gate the con­duct of re­li­gious lead­ers and con­se­quently, be eval­u­ated. Un­til these lead­ers con­form to the reg­u­la­tions that are set, then by no means should they be al­lowed to lead con­gre­ga­tions or prac­tice the­ol­ogy.