KENYA: President Bows to Pressure, Rejects Proposed Religious Societies Rules

NAIROBI JANUARY 29, 2016(CISA)-President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday January 28 ordered the immediate withdrawal of the proposed Religious Societies Rules 2015.

“This will pave way for a process driven by the religious stakeholders with the participation of the government and the general public in structured consultation,” a statement from State House said.

President Kenyatta reached the decision following a meeting with religious leaders on the proposed regulations that had met protest and condemnation from a cross section of religious leaders.

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) had in early January decried the proposed Societies (religious societies) rules 2015 saying if implemented they will have “direct and negative impact on the evangelization mission.”

Speaking during a press conference at Waumini House – Westlands Bishop Philip Anyolo Chairman KCCB, said the proposed new rules are a clear violation of the constitution which draws a clear line between the Church and state. “The same constitution is also explicitly clear on the freedom of worship… how then, we ask, does the government purport to regulate how Kenyans worship?” posed Bishop Anyolo of the Catholic Diocese of Homa Bay. The bishop termed the laws which demand that all faiths keep records of followers as “logistically unrealistic and untenable” and that this will only serve to convert churches into mere registration centres. “To demand that Churches keep records of their followers will effectively reduce Christianity into a game of numbers, and water down the mission of the Church which is evangelization and assisting people to become better persons,” said Bishop Anyolo.

The bishop further faulted the government for not engaging in wide consultations with all religious leaders in the country in the formulations of laws and said “the new laws are therefore an attempt to micromanage worship and should be dropped.”

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