Christian leaders in Uganda are strongly contesting a government proposal to introduce registration of faith-based organisations - a move which follows a now abandoned attempt to introduce similar initiative in Kenya.

"If what we are doing is good, then why should we be registered? Why should a faith that has been in existence for centuries need an operation license?" Mgr John Baptist Kauta, secretary general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference asked.

He described the initiative, which is sponsored by the Department of Ethics and Religious Affairs in the office of the president, as suspicious. Mgr Kauta added that the real intentions of political authorities in adopted such a measure need to be established.

Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola, member of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) in Uganda, wondered how a 30-year-old government would regulate religions that have been in existence for centuries: "Why should a child tell a father how to lead a family? We have been here for decades. What is the logic behind registering well known religions?"

Rev Canon Aaron Mwesigye, director of religious affairs in the President’s Office, cited the objectives of the policy as mediation and arbitration of religious disputes in the country, help in fighting corruption, increase relationship between government and FBOs.

The Kenyan Government had proposed to introduce registration for religious societies in a move part aimed at preventing people from using religion to enrich themselves. The proposal was withdrawn following consultations with religious leaders.

- with Agenzia Fides