Uganda: Govt Body to Regulate Churches

Kampala, Uganda - THE government will soon set up an autonomous body to vet new churches, Daily Monitor has learnt.

According to the draft concept paper on the proposed policy on religion that Daily Monitor has seen, the autonomous body would regulate all religious institutions in the country.

"There should be a religious body or bodies that vet churches to ensure that cults are denied existence," the document reads in part.

The document was designed by the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity.

However, Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo (above) said consultations over the draft policy was ongoing. "Those are still guidelines drafted by the government as we await for the input of religious institutions. We are optimistic that by March we should have gathered all the necessary information for a fully-fledged policy," he said by telephone.

Dr Buturo said after the input of the religious institutions, all stakeholders would develop principles that would be incorporated into a memo for cabinet before the policy is tabled in Parliament.

The document states that due to lack of an institution to regulate religious bodies in the country, Uganda had experienced a number of religious problems in the religious institutions since the 1880s, some of which have lasted to date.

"The policy is not intended to bring about or even formalise interference by the government in the affairs of religious organisations. The government and religious organisations have unique and distinctive roles in the society, which cannot be interchanged," reads part of the document that has been circulated to religious leaders.

"The Kanungu incident where more than 1000 citizens were killed in the year 2000 at the hands of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments, led by Joseph Kibwetere, could have been avoided if there had been clear policies" .

Pastor Solomon Male of Arising for Christ Ministries on September 13, 2006, petitioned President Museveni to investigate some born again churches.

He said many pastors run cult-like churches, commit adultery and homosexuality .

However, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) Director for Sharia, Sheikh Rajab Kakooza told Daily Monitor he had not received a copy of the draft policy.

"We have not received a copy yet but if they send us one, we will contribute," he said.

Pastor Male confirmed that his church received a copy of the draft policy . Dr Buturo said all the leaders of religious organisations, members of the public and civil society organisations will contribute in the formulation of the policy.

According to the 2002 Population and Housing Census, Christians constitute 66 percent of the population, Muslims 16 percent and other religious 18 percent.