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You cannot legislate on church regulation: Second Lady

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – Second Lady Pastor Dorcas Rigathi has cautioned against attempt to regulate churches saying the government has no capacity and lacks the authority to regulate churches.

Pastor Dorcas insisted that while the government is political unit exercising authority to rule, churches are spiritual movements that operate based on faith as the moral compass and conscience of society.

She argued that because government lacks an understanding of how spiritual movements function, it would not have capacity to control them.

“You cannot be able to legislate church, you cannot be able to regulate that which you don’t understand,” she said.

“When they say that the church should be governed by a person who has gone to school and who has degrees and PhDs, I ask them, where is it written in the Bible? Which college did Jesus go to? When it comes to matters divine, they better leave it to us,” the Second Lady, herself a preacher, said on Tuesday.

Freedom of worship

Pastor Dorcas also said regulating churches would amount to restricting the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution (2010) and that the government should not condemn all churches uniformly because most of these churches are founded on values that aim at enhancing society.

She added that while churches could be audited, such an activity could only happen internally and not be instigated externally by the government.

“You cannot find one prophet and say that all prophets are false. It is wrong to wrap everybody up and criminalize them. People are different and behave differently,” she stated.

“As teachers in the church of God, we play an integral role in the government and in society; the Church and Government can never be separated because both are called to serve God’s people. They complement each other to dignify the lives and future of all citizens.”

She made the statement days after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki proposed stronger regulations for future religious activities in the nation, including self-regulation of the organizations.

The Senate has already established a committee to propose laws aimed at bringing sanity to religious institutions.

Senate inquiry

Senators cited cases of leaders of religious institutions taking advantage of gullible Kenyans and especially children, the latest incident in Shakahola leading to the deaths of more than 100 citizens.

In a motion moved by Majority Whip and Kakemega Senator Bonny Khalwale, the Senate mandated an 11-member committee to investigate circumstances leading to the death of followers of the Good News International Church.

The Senate tasked the team to investigate the role played by the church’s controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie, his pastoral team, and the Kilifi County security apparatus in the mass deaths blamed on starvation.

Further the committee was tasked to establish, through the Office of Registrar of Societies, the number, and activities of religious groups in the country and to audit the legal and registration framework for religious organizations.

The team is also required to develop legislative proposal on regulation of religious activities in the country and make any other recommendation that will prevent religious organizations from extreme indoctrination of their followers, including radicalization, spiritual and financial exploitation.

Khalwale noted most of the victims found at the Shakahola murder site demonstrated that religious leaders were taking advantage of Kenyans who were weak, especially children.

“It is appalling that in his own home, where he lives with his wife and children, a mass grave of children aged between 3 and 12 were buried; how a two-year-old is denied food in the name of fasting beats logic,” said the Senator.

“The committee owes the 53 million Kenyans that never again will a Christian child, never again will a Muslim child, never again will the child of this country, be denied an opportunity to drink water, to eat food in the name of religion,” he said.

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