The Office of the Attorney-General has said it is not out to pare down freedom of worship by suspending the registration of churches, rather it seeks to legitimise the institutions.
In a press statement sent through the Registrar of Societies, the ban was initiated in 2014 following various reports that some religious leaders were engaging in activities that compromise the safety of Kenyans.
“From the outset, none of the government agencies including the Office of the Attorney General and the Registrar of Societies have expressed intention to limit the freedom of association, freedom of conscience, religion, belief, opinion, and access to information,” the statement read.
“This was necessitated by several reports indicting the officials of several religious institutions and societies of orchestrating certain unconscionable activities that left their congregants at a disadvantage.”
The most prominent was the “seed gospel”, an exposé by NTV that highlighted how preachers convince their congregants to foot out money so that they can receive ‘blessings’.
Prof Githu Muigai’s office further said that the action was not done unilaterally but after lengthy discussions with religious societies such as the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and the Hindu Council of Kenya.
Nonetheless, Prof Muigai has been under attack, with the latest being from President Uhuru Kenyatta who said anyone, provided they seek to propagate good teachings, is allowed to open a church without being victimised.
“If anyone wants to register a church, so long as he worships the God we know, he should be allowed to register to preach the word of God. We want religious leaders to enjoy freedom of worship,” the president said on Saturday.
Prof Muigai proposed a framework that would require all religious leaders to obtain certificates of good conduct from police and clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
They also seek to audit churches.