Church leaders roll out code of conduct to put rogue preachers in check
Churches have moved to self-regulate as the government undertakes a crackdown against rogue preachers and institutions in the country following the Shakahola massacre that has so far claimed 429 lives.
Religious leaders, lawyers and human rights groups led by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairman Bishop Emeritus David Oginde on Wednesday launched the Code of Conduct and Governance Guidelines for the Church in Kenya, in a bid to counter impending State imposed regulations on religious institutions.
A 12-member steering committee chaired by Bishop Oginde drafted the rules in a move by the churches to self-regulate, as the government tightens the noose on rogue preachers in the country.
“The danger of where we are now is that if we get now, not rogue pastors, but rogue leaders, they could just say no more preaching; and it can happen,” said Bishop Oginde.
Anglican Church Archbishop Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, on his part, stated: “Let the congregants hold their leaders accountable. When they see me doing the contrary, let them stand up and say ‘that is not right, we will not agree, and we will not allow you to do that.’”
The guiding principles and values contained in the Code of Conduct indicate the following;
1. Integrity and ethical conduct are central to Biblical teaching and practice.
2. The church shall promote and enhance the wellbeing of the brethren and of society as a whole in accordance with Christian beliefs and convictions, and refrain from any conduct that undermines the constructive role that churches play in the society.
3. The church shall respect, protect and preserve life and shall refrain from any conduct that devalues, dehumanizes or destroys life.
4. The church shall endevour to uphold the sanctity of life.
5. The church individually and collectively, shall respect and uphold the dignity of every person and shall not abuse or exploit any person, or do anything to violate or degrade that person.
6. The church values children, born and unborn, and shall act in their best interest when under their care by protecting them.
7. The church shall respect the right of every person to join any faith or religion of other choice without bullying, harassment, intimidation or victimization.
Senior Counsel Charles Kanjama, who is also the chair of the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, said: “In the internal forum, you cannot make somebody believe something that they don’t want to believe – you can’t compel them. But at the external forum, when your belief leads you to actions that endanger or harm others, at that point the State can get involved.”
Bishop Oginde added: “This code of conduct is not a weapon but an agreement on what we can do because the danger we have now is that churches can close by being shut down by government. It has happened before.”
The launch of the Code of Conduct and Governance Guidelines for the Church in Kenya comes weeks after the government deregistered 5 churches including cult leader Paul Mackenzie's Good News International Ministries and Pastor Ezekiel Odero's Newlife Prayer Center and Church.
Pastor Odero has since launched a legal challenge against the government's decision.
Once signed and adopted, the Code of Conduct for the Church in Kenya will undergo implementation process, with review and amendment in future likely.
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