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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Pastor Joseph Serwadda rebutted for supporting Policy to regulate Born Again churches in Uganda



 
Regulation unnecessary for born-again faith
  • June 23, 2017
  • Written by MICHAEL KYAZZE
http://observer.ug/viewpoint/53487-regulation-unnecessary-for-born-again-faith.html 


The raging debate on the faith policy as proposed by Fr Simon Lokodo, the minister of Ethics and Integrity, is a contentious topic. The Constitution has spelt out our God-given liberties and rights.
The challenge to all leaders is how to lead and not infringe on these right. The freedom to worship should not be defined by laws and legal embroideries. Let freedom be free!
From Dr Joseph Serwadda’s article in New Vision on June 19, 2017 titled Why legislation on Born Again churches is necessary, he based his argument on seven major reasons:
- The problem of not being recognized by the law of the land as a religion.
- The failure of government to categorize and attach indigenous churches to the right ministry.
- The challenge of mixed identity, whereby clear universal cults, indigenous cults and occults are registered by government and given a semblance of Pentecostal churches.
- The need to regulate the people registering churches and modulate the practices of already registered churches.
- The registration of religious/spiritual entities separate from charities.
- Guarantee for perpetuity of churches as places of worship.
- Equality of born-again churches to the traditional churches.
With those fronted as the reasons to have legislation on born-again churches, I picture a thirsty man opening floodgates to scoop a cup of water, only to be washed away by floods.
There is no manner of organization or law that will regulate faiths and their practices without it becoming discriminative and oppressive. A thirsty man needs water, but not a Tsunami.
Looking briefly at the presented challenges, I would like to shed light on each.
1. The failure of government to place the indigenous Pentecostal churches under the most appropriate political ministry. This predicament lingers on and our registration proposals are often addressed whenever there is electioneering.
Promises are made by the leader in power but nothing concrete comes out. There was a time we were attached to the ministry of Justice, where it was most appropriate to register a church as a company limited by guarantee.
Then, through unwavering lobbying, we were pushed to the ministry of Internal Affairs, where we were registered as NGOs. The next thing we were told to choose either: With the NGO board, we were required to renew our permits periodically. Some of us feel that after 30 years of NRM leadership, this should have been sorted by now.
Is it deliberate that government would like to keep us begging till the next elections? The key question is how will the registration question be settled without creating a monstrous vetting committee of religious people with personal biases?
This move is obviously asking for a ministry of religion and a religious authority which will be charged with the responsibility to approve, vet, assess, police, punish, terminate as well as regulate worship experiences. Apart from Islamic nations, there are just a few nations that have the ministry of religion. Is Uganda going to create a state religion in a secular Constitution?
2. It should not be our objective to achieve equality with the traditional religions since the status being enjoyed by traditional religions was not given to them by the stroke of the pen, but by many historical postures. Some are ugly, unfair and mostly colonially pushed with internal patronage of the leaders of our nation. The best way to be recognized is to do the will of the God that sent us.
3. Permanence and perpetuity will not depend on the legislation because experience has taught us that laws are never free from tinkering fingers of politicians. The law you formulate today will be mutated as many times as politicians choose to change it. Whatever we shall commit to paper as religious policy will be beyond recognition five years from the day it is adopted.
4. No religious ministry will be secure since the law is proposing to regulate, qualify, deny and permit people to register.
In conclusion, whether the law is beautiful and acceptable today, I resist it because of what it is going to become and the resultant subculture, patterns and allegiances it will force us into in order to fit under it and to serve the political powers that will be existing. Good intentions can become bad mistakes.
Fr Lokodo should not pretend to be drafting legislation on faith-based organisations. There are enough rules and laws for him to curb criminal excesses in churches but he doesn’t have the will to enforce the laws.
We are not buying this lie and we shall resist it.
The author is a senior pastor, Omega International Ministries.


Museveni comes out with policy to Movementalise (NRM-lise) evangelical churches in Uganda : Govt does not need a separate law or policy to regulate Pentecostal/evangelical churches

 

 Aaaaaaabig 703x422

Why Serwada is wrong on legislating born again churches

http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1456220/serwada-wrong-legislating-born-churches

Added 23rd June 2017 10:03 AM
By Robert Kirunda
One is left wondering why he deems it necessary to add a layer of regulation

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Why Serwada is wrong on legislating born again churches

By Admin
Added 23rd June 2017 10:03 AM
One is left wondering why he deems it necessary to add a layer of regulation
Aaaaaaabig 703x422

By Robert Kirunda
I read with interest the article published in the New Vision of June 19, 2016 by Joseph Serwadda titled: Why legislation on Born Again churches is necessary.
I have also noted that the matter has gained attention in the mainstream and social media. It is a matter worthy of critical attention. At the centre of the matter seems to be a policy in the offing at the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity.
While Joseph Serwadda and his ilk (many of whom remain in the shadows) are forceful in their arguments for some form of regulation of born again churches, there are those voices who argue that the motives are ill informed and the policy unnecessary.
The issue is not new and Joseph Serwadda is the one consistent voice in advocating for a “policy” or a law to regulate balokole or to somehow have the Government work with balokole to restore the constantly declining moral scales of the Ugandan society (see for instance the New Vision article Religious Leaders want stake in Government April 17, 2015), where the same Serwadda castigated the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity for failing to restore morality, which failure – in his view – was caused by the Government not working with balokole). It is important that we revisit the issue with both perspective and sincerity.
Serwadda’s missive serves to bring some historical facts to light. He does leave out some facts like those prominent figures in Uganda’s opposition who once suggested the banning of biwempe churches because these churches posed a security threat to the then fragile and fairly young NRM/A government.
Nonetheless, Serwadda’s historical perspective in underscoring the fact that the “born again” church has undergone quite a long and mostly turbulent past.
Serwadda is also right when he points out some of the internal problems within the body of Christ today. Some of the issues he highlights include the existence of “fake” pastors, questions of infidelity, unchastity and theological error, which as he puts it, have ashamed Uganda. He raises a litany of points and it is not my intention to dismiss them.
But there are a number of reasons why Serwadda is wrong and his zeal misplaced. Let me deal with the “non legal/technical” reasons. There is simply no foundation for the assertion that the sole or even most prominent cause of the Kanungu inferno or Kibwetere saga as he calls it was the failure of the NGO Board to weed out the wheat from the chaff.
To argue as much would be to argue that since then, there are no cults in Uganda or that every organisation that has been under the watch, registration, licensing and in the knowledge of the Government is legitimate. This would defeat his very subsequent assertion that there are “fake” ministers in the country today.
More importantly, there are ministries just as old with which Serwadda and the wider body of Christ have legitimate issues on doctrine and other matters. Why has the Government not shut them down yet?
In some cases, the head of state has graced the functions of these somewhat objectionable ministries. The issues with Kanungu were certainly deeper than could have been avoided by a policy or legislation. Is the Kanungu inferno defensible or even desirable, absolutely not. Would a policy or legislation ensure that it never happens again? Certainly not.
Serwadda seems to waver between identifying a “home” for balokole in the legal framework and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Whichever weighs on his heart the most, the man of God ought to remember that there is in place a legal framework that governs registration of ministries. Serwadda makes this point quite well when he says there has never been a time when balokole churches are not regulated.
One is left wondering why he deems it necessary to add a layer of regulation. Many of these ministries are registered as companies limited by guarantee or as NGOs.
Under the new framework, even companies limited by guarantee that want to do work for which the NGO board will be responsible will be required to get a permit to operate.
The smart legal thing to do for any ministry is to actually opt for a multi layered approach. This is not unusual or even cumbersome. It has its advantages. What is lacking is not clarity on where a ministry should register or belong. Any vigilant person desiring to comply with Uganda’s laws can have the answers to this question in the shortest time possible. I am quite certain that Serwadda’s church or ministry is registered and I do hope it is compliant under whatever regime it is registered.
Serwadda is quick to point out that the issues he raises are not restricted to balokole. He also adds some layers of distinction between balokole and other sections of society that are quite important.
Interestingly, his prescription to these challenges is legislating for them all. And yet, not a single Muslim or Catholic voice seems to be as keen on this pursuit as he is. The Catholic church is no stranger to internal controversy. No faith or denomination is. But I have yet to hear them push for a policy, let alone one that legislates morality.
Serwadda complains of “self appointed and media created pastors/ministers, which in his view cannot point to a church they have established or one they attend.” It seems to this man of God that there must be an authority to appoint one into the ministry.

This is not the worst idea ever. But for every self appointed minister he will show him, I will show him ministers he respects or ought to respect whose appointment they attribute only to God Almighty, many of them with churches that sit members far larger than his congregation and do so more successfully.
It would be interesting for Serwadda to help us understand the foundation of his forcefully asserted credentials as “Presiding Apostle” and how wide the section of balokole he portends to preside over is. I certainly do not believe he has the approval let alone blessing of the droves of balokole in this country or their leaders.
Serwadda is grossly mistaken to even suggest that the proof of legitimacy of a ministry is that it must have started or be superintending over a church. An example even non-balokole will easily recognise is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its sister organisation, Samaritans Purse.
So far as I know, these organisations were not responsible for the planting of a single church. But their impact on the body of Christ and indeed the society in the United States and the rest of the world needs no explanation.
Fulfilling the great commission or the God given mandate of a Christian is not about only planting churches and superintending them. Serwadda is a knowledgeable man. He knows that the call and task is much larger than this.
The article attempts to make a case for the need for Balokole to “belong” somewhere. I shudder when I read the obsession for belonging. In my little understanding of the gospel on which the balokole are based, the followers of Jesus Christ ought to be known more by their fruits than their titles or affiliations.
It seems to me that there is a deeper obsession here with titles and powers to appoint and disappoint people into ministry than there is to set things straight in the body of Christ.
I will use two simple points to fortify this assertion.
After the Kanungu inferno of which Serwadda like many church leaders were legitimately concerned, leaders among the balokole started the National Fellowship of Born Again Churches. It is my recollection that Serwadda was part of the initial leadership of this fellowship. It has remained in place since and has done quite a number of things with modest success. The circumstances of his departure from his fellow leaders and his eventual exit from this wider section of the balokole leadership are his story to tell. And if we are discussing motives and solutions to problems in the body, it is a story that the Ugandan people deserve to know.
The second point is that what Serwadda is advocating for has resulted in an obvious division in the body of Christ, not just with older ministers with whom he parted ways with in the National Born Again fellowship but also and perhaps, especially with these “self-appointed ministers” he is critical of. What he forgets is that when he founded his ministry decades ago, he was just like them. Serwadda has quickly forgotten the lessons of the history he attempts to teach the younger generation. I struggle to see the difference between the hostility he faced as the “new entity” that was encroaching on the space of the traditional churches of the time and the vociferous attacks he levies on the younger ministries of today. How sad it is that he is now kicking away the very ladder he ought to put in place. I have my long list of issues with some of these ministries and their leaders, as well as their message. But I know better ways to resolve these disputes and legislating around them is certainly the worst of ideas.
Serwadda makes a good point about securing the rights of future generations to worship as they see fit. He misses a very simple point: this was done by providing for these God given rights in the 1995 Constitution. Where the framers thought more detailed legislation was necessary, they said so. This was not the case with religious freedoms. This was not a mistake. Legislating religion in detail is a bad idea.
I have read at least two versions of the draft Policy to which Serwadda is generous in praise. It seems to me as an attempt to legislate morality. I am yet to find a single country in the world that has done this successfully while protecting fundamental freedoms. In its current form, the policy will result in a law that is ambiguous and unenforceable at best. If the need is to repair the moral deficit of society and the choice is between the law and the gospel, I would vote for the gospel. I am intrigued that a man of God would vote otherwise.
The writer is a practicing advocate and Christian

I read with interest the article published in the New Vision of June 19, 2016 by Joseph Serwadda titled: Why legislation on Born Again churches is necessary.
I have also noted that the matter has gained attention in the mainstream and social media. It is a matter worthy of critical attention. At the centre of the matter seems to be a policy in the offing at the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity.

While Joseph Serwadda and his ilk (many of whom remain in the shadows) are forceful in their arguments for some form of regulation of born again churches, there are those voices who argue that the motives are ill informed and the policy unnecessary.

The issue is not new and Joseph Serwadda is the one consistent voice in advocating for a “policy” or a law to regulate balokole or to somehow have the Government work with balokole to restore the constantly declining moral scales of the Ugandan society (see for instance the New Vision article Religious Leaders want stake in Government April 17, 2015), where the same Serwadda castigated the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity for failing to restore morality, which failure – in his view – was caused by the Government not working with balokole). It is important that we revisit the issue with both perspective and sincerity.

Serwadda’s missive serves to bring some historical facts to light. He does leave out some facts like those prominent figures in Uganda’s opposition who once suggested the banning of biwempe churches because these churches posed a security threat to the then fragile and fairly young NRM/A government.
Nonetheless, Serwadda’s historical perspective in underscoring the fact that the “born again” church has undergone quite a long and mostly turbulent past.

Serwadda is also right when he points out some of the internal problems within the body of Christ today. Some of the issues he highlights include the existence of “fake” pastors, questions of infidelity, unchastity and theological error, which as he puts it, have ashamed Uganda. He raises a litany of points and it is not my intention to dismiss them.

But there are a number of reasons why Serwadda is wrong and his zeal misplaced. Let me deal with the “non legal/technical” reasons. There is simply no foundation for the assertion that the sole or even most prominent cause of the Kanungu inferno or Kibwetere saga as he calls it was the failure of the NGO Board to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

To argue as much would be to argue that since then, there are no cults in Uganda or that every organisation that has been under the watch, registration, licensing and in the knowledge of the Government is legitimate. This would defeat his very subsequent assertion that there are “fake” ministers in the country today.
More importantly, there are ministries just as old with which Serwadda and the wider body of Christ have legitimate issues on doctrine and other matters. Why has the Government not shut them down yet?
In some cases, the head of state has graced the functions of these somewhat objectionable ministries. The issues with Kanungu were certainly deeper than could have been avoided by a policy or legislation. Is the Kanungu inferno defensible or even desirable, absolutely not. Would a policy or legislation ensure that it never happens again? Certainly not.

Serwadda seems to waver between identifying a “home” for balokole in the legal framework and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Whichever weighs on his heart the most, the man of God ought to remember that there is in place a legal framework that governs registration of ministries. Serwadda makes this point quite well when he says there has never been a time when balokole churches are not regulated.
One is left wondering why he deems it necessary to add a layer of regulation. Many of these ministries are registered as companies limited by guarantee or as NGOs.
Under the new framework, even companies limited by guarantee that want to do work for which the NGO board will be responsible will be required to get a permit to operate.

The smart legal thing to do for any ministry is to actually opt for a multi layered approach. This is not unusual or even cumbersome. It has its advantages. What is lacking is not clarity on where a ministry should register or belong. Any vigilant person desiring to comply with Uganda’s laws can have the answers to this question in the shortest time possible. I am quite certain that Serwadda’s church or ministry is registered and I do hope it is compliant under whatever regime it is registered.

Serwadda is quick to point out that the issues he raises are not restricted to balokole. He also adds some layers of distinction between balokole and other sections of society that are quite important.
Interestingly, his prescription to these challenges is legislating for them all. And yet, not a single Muslim or Catholic voice seems to be as keen on this pursuit as he is. The Catholic church is no stranger to internal controversy. No faith or denomination is. But I have yet to hear them push for a policy, let alone one that legislates morality.

Serwadda complains of “self appointed and media created pastors/ministers, which in his view cannot point to a church they have established or one they attend.” It seems to this man of God that there must be an authority to appoint one into the ministry.

This is not the worst idea ever. But for every self appointed minister he will show him, I will show him ministers he respects or ought to respect whose appointment they attribute only to God Almighty, many of them with churches that sit members far larger than his congregation and do so more successfully.
It would be interesting for Serwadda to help us understand the foundation of his forcefully asserted credentials as “Presiding Apostle” and how wide the section of balokole he portends to preside over is. I certainly do not believe he has the approval let alone blessing of the droves of balokole in this country or their leaders.

Serwadda is grossly mistaken to even suggest that the proof of legitimacy of a ministry is that it must have started or be superintending over a church. An example even non-balokole will easily recognise is the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its sister organisation, Samaritans Purse.
So far as I know, these organisations were not responsible for the planting of a single church. But their impact on the body of Christ and indeed the society in the United States and the rest of the world needs no explanation.

Fulfilling the great commission or the God given mandate of a Christian is not about only planting churches and superintending them. Serwadda is a knowledgeable man. He knows that the call and task is much larger than this.

The article attempts to make a case for the need for Balokole to “belong” somewhere. I shudder when I read the obsession for belonging. In my little understanding of the gospel on which the balokole are based, the followers of Jesus Christ ought to be known more by their fruits than their titles or affiliations.
It seems to me that there is a deeper obsession here with titles and powers to appoint and disappoint people into ministry than there is to set things straight in the body of Christ.
I will use two simple points to fortify this assertion.

After the Kanungu inferno of which Serwadda like many church leaders were legitimately concerned, leaders among the balokole started the National Fellowship of Born Again Churches. It is my recollection that Serwadda was part of the initial leadership of this fellowship. It has remained in place since and has done quite a number of things with modest success. The circumstances of his departure from his fellow leaders and his eventual exit from this wider section of the balokole leadership are his story to tell. And if we are discussing motives and solutions to problems in the body, it is a story that the Ugandan people deserve to know.

The second point is that what Serwadda is advocating for has resulted in an obvious division in the body of Christ, not just with older ministers with whom he parted ways with in the National Born Again fellowship but also and perhaps, especially with these “self-appointed ministers” he is critical of. What he forgets is that when he founded his ministry decades ago, he was just like them. Serwadda has quickly forgotten the lessons of the history he attempts to teach the younger generation. I struggle to see the difference between the hostility he faced as the “new entity” that was encroaching on the space of the traditional churches of the time and the vociferous attacks he levies on the younger ministries of today. How sad it is that he is now kicking away the very ladder he ought to put in place. I have my long list of issues with some of these ministries and their leaders, as well as their message. But I know better ways to resolve these disputes and legislating around them is certainly the worst of ideas.

Serwadda makes a good point about securing the rights of future generations to worship as they see fit. He misses a very simple point: this was done by providing for these God given rights in the 1995 Constitution. Where the framers thought more detailed legislation was necessary, they said so. This was not the case with religious freedoms. This was not a mistake. Legislating religion in detail is a bad idea.

I have read at least two versions of the draft Policy to which Serwadda is generous in praise. It seems to me as an attempt to legislate morality. I am yet to find a single country in the world that has done this successfully while protecting fundamental freedoms. In its current form, the policy will result in a law that is ambiguous and unenforceable at best. If the need is to repair the moral deficit of society and the choice is between the law and the gospel, I would vote for the gospel. I am intrigued that a man of God would vote otherwise.
The writer is a practicing advocate and Christian



Pastor Bujingo attacks Pastor Serwadda before believers
26, june , 2017
As Christian leaders continue to voice their opinion regarding the alleged government policy intended to regulate faith- based organisations, House of Prayer Ministries International senior Pastor Aloysius Bugingo has used his Sunday sermon to condemn presiding Apostle, Dr Joseph Serwadda for supporting this policy critics say will infringe on the freedom of worship in Uganda.
Pastor Bugingo, who two (2) months back was accused of burning bibles, assured his congregation that Satan is using Dr Joseph Serwadda to turn salvation into religion.
“We have for long as House of Prayer Ministries told you that Dr Joseph Serwadda, Satan is using him with determination to sell Salvation – to turn it into a religion that he is forcefully trying to be president over.” Pr Bugingo said.
“He presumes the Government that registered him is senseless – it does not know how to register true Balokole (Luganda word to mean saved people). He is asking government to legislate Born Again Christians differently so that he regulates them.” He said.
Bugingo noted he is happy so many Pastors and Christian lawyers “wrote articles firing back at Dr Serwadda when he appeared in New Vision on June 19, 2017 explaining Why legislation on Born Again churches is necessary.”
“Balokole are meant to abide by the already existing laws in the country. Every lawbreaker is not above the constitution of the country. Issues related to worship were already settled, only that he is a doctor, he is not informed. In 1995 when the constitution was being released, the issues related to worship were sorted. Everyone was accorded the freedom of worship.”
“Let Serwadda read the constitution again or call those that studied law to tell him that concerning worship, those who made the Constitution put thought to it, and didn’t turn us all to Muslims, Catholics, Anglicans.”
“It is not about professionalism it is about a calling. When someone declares today that regulations should be put in place, and consultations should be made over who should become Pastor because many are self claimed – who announced him one?” Bugingo said.
He added: “If he is not a self declared Pastor, who called him to be a Pastor. If one makes an advocacy claiming that the Born Again faith should be equal to Catholicism, Islam, Anglicanism, such a person is mentally disabled, for we will never be equal. Everyone takes on a different journey.”
Reports surfaced in May saying that the Office of the President, through the directorate for Ethics and Integrity (DEI), is spearheading the effort to regulate affairs of Religious Faith Based Organisations (RFBOs).
The DEI reportedly said, “There is disharmony within and among various RFBOs and a lack of transparency, [which] if not mitigated, could lead to insecurity and gross exploitation of citizens.”
According to reports, If enacted into law, the RFBO policy would maintain the status quo for conventional denominations under Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), but require independent faith-based organizations including born-again churches, to register with government, declare source of funds, accountability as well as the possibility of taxing offertories.
“Mainstream religious faiths are losing big numbers of followers to small born-again churches springing up by the day,” said an IRCU member who preferred anonymity to the Observer. “This policy would ensure that all balokole churches without structures are put in check because their leaders are not accountable to anyone.”
In his New vision Article, Dr Serwadda pledged full support to this government policy urging that Christians today might not see its value but those to come will benefit from it.
Bugingo thanked God for Pastor Kyazze of Omega Healing Center, Apostle Mulinde and many more for voicing their views.
“They have come to know this when he is growing grey hair – something I told them 7 years ago that this man intends to strangle salvation.” Bugingo said. “I know he is listening to what I’m saying. Their services have already ended – they are only intended to collect money.”
Dr Serwadda was reportedly among 50 pastors who in 2015 petitioned UCC, accusing Pr Bugingo of using his media platforms, Salt TV and salt Radio, to attack fellow church leaders using abusive and vulgar language , as well as inciting terror.