Jan 18, 2016

CJ Willy Mutunga wades into debate on regulation of worship

Joackim Bwana and Mwangi Muraguri
The Standard Digital 
January 18th 2016

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has released a set of questions which he says should guide debate on the proposed regulation of the church by the State. The questions by the CJ also seem to probe human rights boundaries which the State must respect and appropriateness of the regulations when pitted against the Bill of Rights contained in Chapter Four of the Constitution. The Government's attempt to regulate the church has seen evangelical church leaders appear to root for a rational debate on the matter.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has already called for the review of the regulations crafted by Attorney General Githu Muigai and for the two parties to meet for a compromise. Dr Mutunga, who from the outset claimed he did not want to delve into the debate and who later declined to clarify his points, said the prime question was whether the Government should regulate and tax the church.

"Does giving tithe or offerings deliver salvation or pass way to heaven, does a believer have the right to spend their money as they wish, and if prosperity gospel has led to emergence of spiritual companies limited, should we tax them?" questioned Mutunga. 

The CJ was addressing rights activists during the honouring of Sheikh Munir Mazrui, one of the oldest human activists in Mombasa over the weekend. 

He, however, said the debate on regulating prosperity church was restricted only to evangelical churches because Islam had no prosperity gospel. 

Mutunga further wondered if there was no law in the current Penal Code to punish errant religious leaders. "Is there a robust law in the Penal Code to deal with crimes committed by religious people?" he posed. 

He further seemed to caution the Government against encroaching on the freedom of choice.

"If people can actually give their cars to individuals because they are buying their rite of passage to heaven, if they are that crazy what do we do with them?" posed Mutunga.

Meanwhile, the CJ said has challenged citizens to take appointed leaders to account to ensure they deliver on their roles. "Citizens are to blame for the behaviours of their leaders because of their sycophancy and tolerance to such leaders. "Leaders are servants of the people and should be able to serve them appropriately," he said.


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