Regulate churches - religious leaders

Religious leaders at a past function. Photo/FILE

Kenya urgently requires laws to govern church operations, say clergymen.

They say the lack of regulations made it easier for the mushrooming of denominations for use by their founders as centres of corruption and avenues to quick riches.

Father Vincent Wambugu, the secretary-general of the Catholic Church’s Kenya Episcopal Conference, says: “We are guided by certain rules right from the top to the grassroots. You just do not get someone diverting church money to personal coffers.”

Since it is the faithful who contribute money to finance church projects, he says, they should question when things go wrong. “The faithful are cowed and never ask questions. Church leaders must be held accountable by members.”

The Presbyterian Church in East Africa (PCEA) also advocates accountability and transparency in its affairs. Dr David Githii, the moderator, says 70 per cent of the new churches are used by those who start them as a source of income.

“There is a lot of money for church affairs and structures must be put in place to check expenditure. It is unfortunate some pastors abuse the congregation when the tithes are little,” says Dr Githii, who is also a researcher in religious matters. “Most of the splits you see are about some members not benefiting financially.”

The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) is alarmed by some of their members who are in the business of “making money through the gospel”.

The umbrella body that brings together 210 Pentecostal, charismatic and neo-conservative denominations calls for an elaborate self-regulation programme.

Prosperity gospel

EAK general secretary Wellington Mutiso says: “We are aware some pastors are charging for special prayers and sell some ‘water from Israel’. This is not godly.”

But some of the prosperity gospel preachers say they do not break any biblical teachings.

Pastor Stephen Keitany of Vision Ministries in Eldoret says there is nothing wrong with the prosperity gospel.

Others feel the gospel has been commercialised because of misinterpretation of biblical teachings.

Mr Philip Warutere, the pastor in charge of Nyahururu Bible Baptist Church, says some churches thrive on social programmes that never exist. “We have people in our church who run the programmes. No individual can misuse the money.”

Any church, he says, should have a system where the congregation is the final decision-maker.

Reported by Kipchumba Some, Billy Muiruri, Moses Mwathi and Luke Kapchanga

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