Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "Our Constitution accords every Kenyan the right to worship and I fully support that position. But we will not allow thieves to use religion to steal from Kenyans", said the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, explaining the meaning of the new "Religious Societies Rules 2015", which is generating a lively debate between the Government and religious denominations. The Catholic Bishops have strongly criticized the legislative proposal (see Fides 13/01/2016).
President Kenyatta added that his decision to direct Attorney General Githu Muigai to ensure that the draft Religious Societies Rules 2015 are subjected to further vigorous public consultations was aimed at making sure the regulations do not undermine the fundamental values principles enshrined in the Constitution.
Addressing the religious authorities, Kenyatta said that "we must work together to root out people who use the Church to enrich themselves. These are thieves and must be treated with the contempt they deserve".
The "Religious Societies Rules 2015" intend to prevent mosques from being used as a place of recruitment and growth of a new generation of terrorists through fundamentalist preaching.
Among the measures contained in the new draft rules include the requirement that all religious societies be registered and open to the registrer's inspection any time having provided the physical address from which it operates and that all pastors serving in Kenya hold a theological certificate from an accredited theological institution.
The rules also state that religious organizations have at least a third of its officers being Kenyan citizens and where it has foreign religious leaders and officers, submit in respect of each religious leader and officer a certified copy of a work permit, an alien identification card, passport and a letter of recommendation from the relevant embassy.
The Catholic and Anglican Bishops have responded that their churches have the ability to self-regulate themselves; a statement which was welcomed by the President, who said: "The best situation is self-regulation". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/01/2016)