The office of the Attorney General has said it is not out to curtail freedom of worship by stopping registration of churches but rather to legitimise the foundations of the institution.
In a press statement sent from the AG Prof Githu Muigai’s office through the Registrar of Societies, the stopping of registration started in 2014 following increased cases of radicalisation and at the time, religious groups were pointed out as one of the causes.
“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,” read the statement.
The AG’s office further said the action taken after lengthy discussions with religious societies such as National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, and the Hindu Council of Kenya.
“This was necessitated by several reports indicating the officials of several religious institutions and societies of orchestrating certain unconscionable activities that left their congregants at a disadvantage,” said the AG.
He further explained that some of those groups included the infamous “panda mbegu” saga.
“These incidences were of grave concern as they are directly connected to the maintenance of law and order within the country and the assurance of security of the citizenry,” he said.
But Prof Muigai has been under attack from religious institution over the stoppage and even president Uhuru Kenyatta has lent his voice into the fray saying he has no right to do so and that he must rescind his directive.
“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,” said the president.
However, the AG defends himself that a series of consultative meetings have been held with the above mentioned religious groups where among the issues they were opposed to was accounting for their resources in that they do not to submit their audited returns.
But this is a prerequisite of any society in Kenya contained in the constitution under section 30 of the Societies Act.
Section 30 therefore provides an offence for registered Societies that fail to comply with the provision.
He also further explained that the press release is in no way meant to influence the pending case in court but rather an informative statement regarding the whole issue.