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Churches refuse to recognise Civil marriages

Various couples at the URSB civil marriage department. Photo/TheObserver

Is a civil marriage ceremony valid in the eyes of God? While announcing intentions to terminate unmarried teachers from Church-founded schools across the country, Church of Uganda officials said they do not recognize civil marriages.

Bishop of Mukono diocese, James Williams Ssebagala asked teachers in such marriages to get ready for a November 28 mass wedding at the Cathedral, in case they lack funds to organise individual church weddings.

“Many teachers have cited the lack of money as the major reason for not getting married. For that reason, the diocese will provide almost everything, the gowns, food, cake, and transport,” Ms Suzan Wamala Sserunkuma, the chairperson of Mukono Church of Uganda Headteachers Association who confirmed the report to the News Vision said.

This directive currently making rounds on social media was announced during a meeting the Church of Uganda founded schools’ headteachers had at Saints Philip and Andrew’s Cathedral in Mukono on Thursday.

“Some of them may perceive it negatively as if the church is infringing on their personal life, but in the long run, they will realize that the church is doing them a favor. They must therefore welcome the idea,” Wamala said.

She stated that the Church would not force the single ones to get married, but it was putting emphasis in the ones who had been living together as couples for some time, but had failed to be joined in Holy Matrimony.

Mr Charles Nsimbi, the manager for civil registration at URSB however says in Uganda, four marriages are recognized; Civil, Muslim, Customary and Hindu.

Church weddings, he says, fall under civil marriage since they are licensed by government as per the Marriage Act Cap 251. Charles Nsimbi, says church ministers become registrars under the Marriage Act.

Every week, reports show that about 35 couples take their vows at the Kampala civil registration department, an increment from about 20 couples few years ago.

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