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Catholic Entity Petitions Kenya's President to Lift Ban on Registration of New Churches

The Official Logo of CitizenGo. Credit: CitizenGo

The African branch of the International Catholic activist organization, CitizenGo Africa, is calling on the President of Kenya to lift the ban on the registration of new churches that has been in place since 2014.

The office of the Attorney General (AG) imposed a restriction curtailing the registration of churches in Kenya saying the move was necessitated by “several reports indicating the officials of several religious institutions and societies of orchestrating certain unconscionable activities that left their congregants at a disadvantage.”

In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta condemned the AG’s directive saying anyone should be allowed to register churches. 

In their Monday, February 7 petition, CitizenGo officials say President Kenyatta has failed to fulfill his promise of lifting the ban on registration of new churches in Kenya. 

“This is the eighth year since churches were banned from registration in Kenya,” say officials of the entity founded by the ultra-Catholic HazteOir organization.

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In the petition addressed to President Kenyatta, CitizenGo Africa officials add, “When you were vying to be re-elected in 2017, you promised to lift the ban but this seems to be seen yet your reign ends in a few months.”

“Please stop using your government to stifle religious freedom in Kenya, order with immediate effect the resumption of registration of churches in Kenya,” the CitizenGo Africa officials say. 

Officials of the human rights organization say the Kenyan President needs to lift the ban “as soon as possible” because “religious freedom in Kenya is at stake.”

When announcing the ban on the registration of new churches, the former AG, Githu Muigai, asked all religious organizations incorporated in Kenya to file returns with the Registrar of Societies and provide information about their respective entities, including their full name, date, and registration number.

Different human rights entities have called on the AG in Kenya to lift the ban on the registration of new churches in the East African nation.  

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In 2017, the East African Centre for Law and Justice said the ban "obstructs the freedom of worship and the right of expressing one’s religious beliefs." 

The February 7 CitizenGo Africa Petition comes days after the wife of Kenya’s former Prime Minister called for the regulation of churches.

In her message which she later retracted, Mrs. Ida Odinga called on the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) to regulate churches and streamline the consistency and relevance in their doctrines and messages, especially the small churches.

CitizenGo Africa officials are mobilizing signatures that are to be submitted alongside the petition in calling for the lifting of the ban on registration of new churches in Kenya.