Bungoma based self proclaimed Jesus Yesu Wa Tongaren and Nabii Yohana were the subjects of reference for preachers of false doctrines even as religious organizations pushed back on the recommendations to review the legal and regulatory framework governing the church.
In a public participation forum pitting the clergy and the Presidential taskforce appointed to review religious activities following the Shakahola massacre, religious leaders opposed plans to review existing laws, saying it will limit freedom of worship.
Mr Simon Kipkogey, speaking on behalf of the National Council of Churches Kenya (NCCK) North Rift region, objected to the idea of giving government powers to oversee religious activities despite admitting that there was need to reform regulations.
“We have enough laws that have never been implemented fully by our criminal justice system. The government can’t prescribe faith or its practice and that’s a responsibility that the church can manage through self-regulation,” Mr Kipkogey noted.
Eldoret Catholic Diocese Bishop Dominic Kimengich decried a culture of mob condemnation from the state and church critics for blaming the entire church when a few individuals go rogue with misleading doctrines.
“As a church we believe in the rule of law. When an individual commits a crime, it is not fair to blame the whole and brand the church as a force for evil. Let those who break the law be dealt with without blaming every church,” remarked Kimengich.
According to Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) North Rift Chapter, self regulation is the best way to address emerging issues in the practice of faith and delegating that responsibility to the state would be against the constitution of the country.
“We still think as an association we have enough laws that can prevent issues of manipulation and extremism and the rise of doctrines that are killing our people in the name of practicing faith,” said EAK representative.
Mr Eli Rop, a taskforce member demanded the clergy to explain what constitutes a false doctrine.
“We all are agreeing that there is a problem in the church but you are reluctant to have the government regulate religious activities. So where do we draw the line and who should define for us the right interpretation of the bible since we have freedom of worship and conscience?” asked Rop.
Most of the clergy members recommended that structured umbrella organizations of churches should be given the mandate to vet and regulate members while pointing a finger of blame to investigative agencies like DCI for events of shakahola.