The Evangelical Alliance of Kenya has condemned government plans to make it tougher for religious bodies and clerics from all faiths to operate, going so far as to claim the move was aimed at stopping the growth of evangelical churches.

However, it’s locally reported that a leading (unnamed) Anglican cleric welcomed the proposals as an attempt to end the “commercialisation” of religion.

The Catholic Church – the largest Christian denomination in Kenya, and to which President Uhuru Kenyatta belongs – has not yet commented on the proposals.

The proposals require all religious bodies to register, and for preachers to have police clearance. All religious institutions would also be required to submit their statements of faith to a government-backed body for examination.

Christians form the majority in Kenya, while Muslims are the second-largest group. Their main body, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, was also opposed to the proposals, warning they could violate “freedom of worship and amount to a clampdown on religious institutions”, local media report.

Other proposals include:
– All preachers have to undergo theological training at a reputable seminary
– The Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission will have to certify that clergy are not corrupt and
– Foreign pastors will need a work permit, and a recommendation from their government.

The proposal was issued last week; public consultations will be held before drafting of the legislation ostensibly designed to target self-proclaimed Christian prophets and faith healers whose influence is growing, as well as Muslim extremist preachers.