Mahatma Gandhi
Muturi Kigano
National Council of Churches

LETTERS: Should religious organisations be regulated?

Modern religious practices have deviated from the conventional path making them prone to abuse.

Parliament in session: A bill has been proposed to among other things regulate the conduct of religious organisations. FILE PHOTO | NMG

It is estimated that 80 percent of Kenyans confess the Christian faith but in practice, commitment to profess this faith can rarely get an inch deep. Indian independence activist Mahatma Gandhi censured the one inch deep Christians for being unlike Christ, whom by his estimation was an ideal example to humankind. Modern religious practices have deviated from the conventional path making them prone to abuse. However, besides handling sensitive human spiritual matters there exists no control mechanisms against abuse. Unfortunately, earlier attempts to regulate the sector have all along faced resistance.Kangema MP Muturi Kigano recently proposed to introduce a bill in Parliament, which among others will regulate the conduct of religious organisations. Already, his attempt has attracted criticism as an assault against the church. Perhaps, it would have been logical if the matter was left to the clergy and religious leaders to advance a mechanism for regulation as they are conversant to the sector.Formation of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) in 1918 aimed to achieve a united mission of churches by nurturing a common understanding of Christian faith a role so far it has performed dismally.The book of revelation warns Christians to be wary of fake prophets and teachers of the word of God in the end days. Distorted messages and teachings often spread through mainstream and social media, besides crusades and roadshows, are avenues of deceiving believers into spiritual and material manipulation and exploitation.Religious leaders ought to have been the pioneers of a regulatory framework, sanitise world evangelism and weed out the unscrupulous and fraudsters amongst them.That way the church might prevail in safeguarding and protecting its image and dignity regardless of religious persuasions.

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It is disturbing when respectable and decorated church leaders stand in solidarity with some questionable characters who abuse the privileges of free religious practice.Freedoms to religion and assembly need not violate individual rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, there is an element of religion commercialisation by Pentecostal churches contrary to mainstream churches. In so doing, spiritual fraud, manipulation, indoctrination, and falsehoods are rampant, practices that are unethical, irregular and borders on criminality. The foundations of true religion are truthfulness, hopefulness, sense of direction, love, and peace.Regardless of being for or against religious regulation, the extent of religious malpractices, the advent of suspect doctrines, retrogressive practices and radicalisation as presently exhibited by religious organisations is a threat to nationhood and coherence, probably enough grounds for their evaluation.Furtherance to desired practices, ethical standards, mode of operations, and managerial obligations will enhance accountability, transparency, and predictability to religious beliefs. Else, the doctrine of the wheat and the shaft, faults on theological laziness that indirectly diffuses mysterious, mischievous, fraudulent and abusive theories.Those in authority should borrow a leaf from Rwanda and protect innocent sheep from wolves in sheep clothing.

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