State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Rev. Father Simon Lokodo, has denied having given any authority to Pastor Joseph Sserwadda of Victory Christian Church, to register and oversee all Born Again Pentecostal Churches in Uganda as he (Sserwadda) allegedly claims.
The Minister was Thursday addressing leaders of the Born-Again faith under the National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches (NFBPC) who had gathered at Ndejje University, in Luweero district to dissect the proposed government policy aimed at regulating faith-based organisations in the country.
Fr Lokodo said he was disappointed with Sserwadda whom he said possesses a document he keeps showing people alleging it is from the Minister, authorizing him to regulate and decide on which churches should operate or not in Uganda.
‘’Lokodo has no registration powers yet, if anything, I can only recommend but I have not done anything to do with registration. I want to make this loud and clear that I have no powers,” the Minister told reporters.
“There is no legal framework that gives me the authority and powers to designate anybody to perform any job of this type. I want to state this categorically that, never have I put either in mention or in documentary writing that I have designated anybody to go and oversee all the Born Again Churches,’’ he said
‘’I am very disappointed with my elder brother Apostle Joseph Sserwadda, because I am told he moves with a document in his hand that I authorised him to go and register churches and that all of them should go through him and enrol with him before beginning to operate, and that he has got the powers to stop churches from operating using the powers I vested in him,’’ Lokodo said, before adding that he is to meet him for a discussion into the matter.
The proposed policy among other things seeks to regulate activities of all faith-based organizations in the country and bringing harmony between them and the state.
It also provides that only individuals with a proven background and training in theology shall be allowed to start up churches in the country.
Last week, top city pastors convened and castigated government over the matter, saying the framers of the policy have a hidden agenda of frustrating their efforts of spreading the Gospel.
The same pastors asked President Yoweri Museveni to relieve Fr Lokodo of his duties as Ehnics Minister, accusing him of ‘incompetency’ and ‘collaborating’ to fail the Born Again faith.
But Lokodo says, there is no law as yet since the policy is still at the consultation stage and that pastors are free to continue with their operations and spreading the gospel as they have been doing.
He however said the policy intends to curtail ‘fake’ pastors who are in the habit of exploiting the flock instead of giving back to them and solving their problems as said in the Bible.
‘’My brothers and sisters, I have been hurting, it is unacceptable and so painful. There are persons who jump from nowhere and start taking responsibility which is so higher than them, giving themselves all kinds of titles. One wakes up in the morning and claims he has been touched by God, this we can’t accept,’’ he said
‘’Who does not have a lineage really? Even a mere tree has branches, a steam and roots. These people wake up from nowhere and read one text in the Bible and that is what they read in their whole life. Yes, you can do it but at least go through some nurturing,’’ Lokodo added
He said that he has reports that several pastors sexually harass the flock in the disguise of blessings and solving their problems as well as separating many families, by asking spouses to separate in case one does don’t practice Christianity.
He says these are some of the issues the policy intends to solve.
‘’You tell a woman, remove your bra and come to me because the Holy Spirit comes faster to you through the breast. You are failing to conceive, so come here, through me, you can conceive. And there are those who say please if in your family, one partner doesn’t agree with the teachings of the Church, please separate. Children have become destitute on the streets because of some uninformed pastor somewhere,’’ he added
In their meeting last week, some pastors cited one of the emerging issues in the draft which says that: ‘’The policy should be cognisant of transgender and gay rights issues in order to curb the global trends that are adversely affecting the country’’, as one that intends to promote homosexuality in the country.
But the Minister says the policy has been misinterpreted.
He says: ‘’You must have known how vehemently I have been in ensuring that homosexuality is not propagated in Uganda. I don’t like recruiting it, I don’t like promoting it and I don’t like anything to do with homosexuality. All we are saying is that we should not give it a ground of operation in the country because it is criminalised by our laws’’.
On his part, Pastor Lwere, the overseer of NFBPC explained that he invited the Minister to clarify on the issues of controversy in the policy as well as media reports that he abuses Born Again pastors.
He added that he was impressed by the Minister’s presence since his members had been enlightened on the true intentions of the policy.
He also cautioned him from discussing the policy in the media, most especially at its juvenile stage since his remarks are likely to be misquoted and spark tension among the Born Again faith believers who listen to him.
Meanwhile, Minister Lokodo and NFBPC agreed to have a two-month period of reviewing and consulting on the proposal henceforth, so as to reach a consensus and end the current stand off.