Involve clergy in bill to regulate churches, bishop tells legislator

Chairman National Alliance of Registered Churches in Kenya Bishop Samuel Welimo with his wife on Sunday. /BRIAN OJAMAA
Chairman National Alliance of Registered Churches in Kenya Bishop Samuel Welimo with his wife on Sunday. /BRIAN OJAMAA

Churches have called for inclusion in the making of a bill to regulate religious organisations.

‘We support the move to streamline church regulations, but that mandate should be left to the church itself to see how to go about it,” Bishop Samuel Welimo said on Sunday.

Welimo, who is the chairman of the National Alliance of Registered Churches of Kenya, was reacting to a decision by Kangema MP Muturi Kigano to table a bill in the National Assembly to regulate the formation and registration of churches.

The primate asked MPs to include all stakeholders.

Kigano said most churches have been turned into business entities where corruption thrives.

The MP said that the proposed law will end the mushrooming of fake churches.

Welimo said churches were a reflection of the society. “A church usually starts with family members and their neighbours,” he said, claiming that this was supported in the Bible.

The presiding bishop at Hope of God Mission Church in Busia said Jesus started his church with family members.

He asked church leaders to be open with what they do. “We’ll appreciate if MPs allow Kenyans to exercise freedom of worship because it is their constitutional right. People should worship the god they want,” he said.

Welimo recommended that all pastors should be trained in theology.

Last week, Kigano said the current registration process has been hijacked by unscrupulous people who call themselves men of God.

He said such people were opening churches to become rich through collection of tithes.“We even have churches that are made up of three members with the husband being the bishop, wife acting as the pastor or archdeacon and their daughter as the treasurer. This cannot be allowed,” Kigano said.

He said clerics no longer preached the virtues articulated by the scriptures. “They are preoccupied with what is called prosperity gospel that urges followers to get rich. It is about tithing generously and planting the seed,” the MP said.

To allow masqueraders to exploit poor Kenyans through fake religious preaching is unethical, Kigano stated. “Most of those gullible are women, especially young ladies and single mothers who get hypnotised by the clerics’ stories.”

He accused churches of tax evasion. He said religious leaders buy construction materials without tax receipts. “That amounts to corruption because it denies government revenue,”the Kangema MP said.