A section of Members of Parliament have failed to agree with fellow legislator John Baptist Nambeshe over his intended move to introduce a Private Member’s Bill aimed at regulating religious organisations in the country.
The Manjiya County MP who on Wednesday moved a motion seeking leave of Parliament, said the bill titled the Religious Organisations Bill, 2019, seeks to have all religious organisations registered and established under one regulatory authority.
“The laws that regulate religious sects like the Constitution of Uganda 1995, Church of England Trustees Act and the Non-Governmental Organisational Act 2016 among others do not provide a uniform mechanism of monitoring religious organisations,” he said.
Nambeshe further revealed that there ought to be a regulatory framework to make sure that religious organizations only set up in gazetted areas.
“It is common to find religious sects operating in residential areas and other noise sensitive areas causing discomfort to people,” he said, adding that, “there should be permits issued for places of worship.”
However, Buvuma Islands County MP Jennifer Nantume noted that the proposed bureau charged with regulating religion would be infringing on right to freedom of worship.
“We have diverse cultures and a strong base of traditional beliefs that vary. This would be difficult to regulate because of the unique beliefs of the various groups,” she said.
Butaleja District MP Milly Mugeni said that the country already has a registration bureau, which oversees religious sects.
“We would be duplicating agencies handling the same issue if we allowed this law that calls for the formation of another bureau to handle religion,” she noted.
Mugeni also warned that religion is a sensitive matter that needs countrywide consultation.
“I encourage Hon Nambeshe to consult widely before any move is made on this matter because people have varying views and we run a risk of being misunderstood as their representatives.”
On the other hand, Chua West MP Okin P.P. Ojara said MPs ought to be mindful of the misleading religious sects and called for their regulation.
“We need to remind ourselves of the incident in Kanungu in 2001 where a man called Kibwetere, operating a religious sect, burnt people to death in church; these are circumstances that need to be curbed,” he said.
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