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Parliament faced with private member’s bill that seeks to register, regulate churches

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. PPU Photo.

By Male Marvin

KAMPALA – A section of legislators on Wednesday took a firm stand against a request to grant Hon John Baptist Nambeshe (NRM, Manjiya County, Bududa) leave to introduce a bill aimed at regulating religious and faith organizations in Uganda. 

Hon Nambeshe said the bill entitled ‘The Religious Organizations Bill 2019’ seeks to provide a legal framework for registration, regulation and management of religious organisations.

The Member of Parliament explained that should the bill become a law, government will be able to “consolidate, amalgamate, and modernize” the policies relating to the establishment and management of all religious institutions in Uganda.

In support of the bill, Hon Gaster Mugoya Kyawa (Bukooli), said the proposed Religious Organization Bill will help to regulate “fake” religious leaders who he said among other crimes extort money from believers.

Speaking against the request, a section of legislators said “matters of religion will be tricky to regulate.” 

“Setting up a bureau to have churches registered under one body would be a duplication of the work of several agencies that are doing similar work,” Buvuma Woman MP Janiper Nantume noted.

“Religion is a matter of faith and calling from God, we cannot sit here and constitute ourselves into a bureau that would act as a small god to regulate religious activities,” she explained.

In his submission, Kassiano Wadri, the Arua Municipality MP said the Catholic Church “cannot allow to be subjected to any form of registration.”

“As a House, we must be very cautious, let us not abuse our own rules. If the rules allow you to present private Bill, you shouldn’t present one that seeks to abolish Parliament simply because you have the right,” Hon Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said, terming the Bill as “Satanic.” 

As much as Hon Nambeshe asserted the proposed Religious Organizations Bill doesn’t contradict with constitutional provisions on freedom of worship, the debate raised a lot of emotions prompting the speaker, Rt Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga to defer the debate.

Notably, the house didn’t have quorum to vote on the matter.

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