One of Africa’s boldest attempts to prevent bad behavior within its mushrooming churches has been abandoned.
In 2014, Kenya’s attorney general, Githu Muigai, banned new churches amid a “miracle-faking” spree. Muigai began 2016 by proposing a lengthy list of new reporting requirements, including minimum theological education for pastors, annual membership thresholds, and churches joining an umbrella organization.
At the same time, the Communications Authority of Kenya announced a new policy that banned radio and television preachers from asking listeners to send in money or get saved at the end of their broadcasts.
The changes were welcomed by the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK). “Horrible things are happening in the church today,” bishop Beneah Salah told The Standard, a Nairobi newspaper. “There is a lot of commercialization of the gospel.”
The ACK had no problem with the law as long as it allowed Christians to keep evangelizing, bishop Timothy Wambunya told The Standard. “Our church constitution gauges the conduct and education of each cleric, and that’s what the laws basically want.”
But backlash from Kenyan evangelicals, Catholics, and Muslims alike was so severe that President Uhuru Kenyatta sent the 2015 Religious Societies Rules back to the drawing board. While Muigai had consulted informally with church leaders, any new regulations must be “subjected to further vigorous public consultations,” Kenyatta’s spokesman stated. (The broadcast policy still stands.)
It’s not that Kenyan Christians don’t see a problem with prosperity preachers. One recently told churchgoers that their money would double if they transferred half of theirs ...1