The State Minister for Ethics & Integrity, Simon Lokodo has stuck his guns on the proposed policy to regulate religious institutions saying it inevitable so as to crack the whip on rogue pastors.
A group of over 500 Born Again church leaders from various parts of the country recently endorsed a move to ask President Museveni to sack his minister for fanning the move.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with a section of religious leaders at Ndejje University, Lokodo said he has got many reports on his desk about crimes committed by pastors and other religious leaders, adding that it is only prudent that they are regulated.
“Some of them abuse their followers. I have so many reports about them in my office and I am looking for them,”Lokodo said on Thursday.
He said that many of them take advantage of followers who come to them for blessings to fleece them of huge amounts of money and they leave them toiling in poverty as the pastors on the other side get rich day by day.
“You see a pastor driving a vehicle worth shs400 million but his followers are languishing in dust. This is unacceptable.”
Born Again church leaders have accused Lokodo of fueling the proposed policy with his own selfish interests.
“In one of the meetings invited to discuss the new policy, when I tried to give divergent views, the minister said if I didn’t want I should get out. He called Born Again churches flies. It is high time the president sacked him,” said Prof. Simon Kayiwa from Namirembe Christian Fellowship.
They say they can be regulated by the 1995 Constitution and Penal Code other than the new policy being fanned by the minister.
“When one of our own, Pastor William Muwanguzi(Kiwedde) committed crimes, the law worked well on him. It is the same law that should be used on us and not what they want to bring,” Kayiwa added.
“You have been asking us to leave politics alone and this time we are telling politicians to leave matters of God alone,” said one Pastor Peter Mutebi.
Under the new National Policy on Religious and Faith-Based Organisations, all clerics will be required to obtain formal theological training and to obtain a certificate from a recognized institution.
According to the policy document, a number of stakeholders including the Anglican church, Roman Catholic church, elders forum, Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, judges, Members of Parliament and the Orthodox Church among others were consulted before coming up with it.
According to the new policy, faith-based institutions will be required to train clerics for their respective denominations and it will also put in place procedures to be followed by whoever wants to start a new church and will be required to declare their source of income.
The policy will also seek to enforce transparency and financial accountability in religious institutions.
A number of religions including Muslims, Anglican and Catholics among others have recognized theological schools from where their various leaders are trained from before they start doing the work of God.