AG Githu Muigai
The Attorney General has defended proposed laws that seek to regulate churches, saying they are not meant to interfere with freedom of worship.
Githu Muigai in a statement said although the dispute over the new laws was pending determination at the High Court, he wanted to clarify the new regulations’ purpose as a result of falsehoods being peddled by some religious leaders.
The proposed laws are meant to address public outcry over several con churches that deceive their congregation with fake miracles while minting millions of shillings through “panda mbegu” (plant a seed) gospel, he said.
He added: “The decision was necessitated by several reports indicting officials of several religious institutions and societies of orchestrating certain unconscionable activities that left their congregants at a disadvantage.”
The new laws were also necessitated by many cases of increased radicalisation of youth at the Coast, North Eastern and Nairobi, he continued.
Prof Muigai maintained that no government agency intended to limit the freedom of association, conscience, religion, belief, opinion, and access to information but they were only out to ensure sustainable development of religious institutions.
On the disputed provision that religious societies submit their audited financial accounts, the Attorney General stated that there was nothing unconstitutional about it as it is provided in the Societies Act.
“Every registered society is required to furnish the Registrar of Societies on an annual basis, on or before the prescribed date, such returns, accounts, and other documents as may be prescribed under Section 30 of the Societies Act,” said Muigai.
He added that every registered society is under obligation to at least once every year hold a general meeting to which all its members shall be invited.
At this meeting, the leadership shall give a full and true accounts of monies received and paid by the society.
The Attorney General also denied claims that his office did not involve religious leaders when drafting the new law, saying that they fully participated and gave out their views.
“We had many consultative meetings to deliberate on the existing operations of the faith based institutions with a view of establishing a regulative framework of the religious bodies and we had representatives from across religious organisations,” the AG added. He stated that it was only at one such meeting that a faction within the representatives of faith based organisations objected to certain provisions which they claimed would lead to over-regulation by the government.
The disagreements were on provisions touching on leadership and integrity and accountability on resources entrusted to religious organisations by congregants.