Why a Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Bishop to close down the church

Corona Lockdown: Should Governments Close Down Churches?

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Why a Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Bishop to close down the church

Why a Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Bishop to close down the church
Dr. Teddy Kamau

Corona Lockdown: Should Governments Close Down Churches? Part 2 of 4: Understanding Why Governments can Control Churches.

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A Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Kenyan Bishop to close down the church. The Chief was given that authority by the State government under the emergency declaration of President Uhuru Kenyatta. It is not just in Kenya that churches are being ordered to close, rather, for the first time, First Baptist Church in Orlando closed its doors to parishioners. Nairobi Parklands Baptist church was closed and Pastor Ambrose was forced, according to one parishioner, “To preach to empty seats.” Most churches did broadcast their services online and the parishioners enjoyed the sermons from the comfort of their homes. The idea of Bedside Baptist Church took a practical hold thanks to Corona virus scare.

Majority of governments require churches be registered. In the United States, Churches enjoy the benefits of tax exemption and therefore their existence must be regulated by the federal government, and must conform to the requirements of laws passed by congress and state governments. It is for this reason president Donald Trump worked with evangelicals to get lid of the Johnson act. In 1954 Lyndon Johnson introduced the registration, which passed in congress. This registration forbids those benefiting from tax code section 501/c/3 from supporting or opposing political candidates. This restricts certain speech within the church. If a church wants to benefit from the tax code, then it has to abide by the rule.

Many churches have schools and daycares. These are services that fall under departments in federal statutes and state governments. In Kenya, churches are supposed to be registered under the societies act of 1947 (Note my use of the word supposed). This law falls under the office of the registrar general which functions under Kenya’s attorney general. Then the Registrar of societies implements the law working under the registrar general.

Mainline denominations like the Catholic Church, Africa Inland Church (AIC), the Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Victory Worship Center Churches and certain Pentecostal Assembly Churches are societies registered legally with the registrar of societies. The process is not easy given that it involves the community. The requirements include a letter of clearance from National Security Council. It is here that churches like those of pastor Kanyari, Helicopter ministries and others swim under the radar. They do not like the idea of being accountable to the congregation under a church constitution or the letter from NSC.

Many of them are registered under the registrar of companies and they are not societies but companies. They are managed like businesses with the pastor as the chairman of the church company and his wife and children as board members. Therefore, most of these gatherings are businesses and the congregants have no steak in any and all matters or properties their in. It is for these reasons pastors of these churches have absolute authority over the offering and are therefore able to

spend the money as they please. They can therefore buy expensive cars, houses, invest in other businesses and share the wealth of the offering with their wives and children. It has made many individuals rich in Kenya while the congregants continue to live in poverty.

It is important to note that biblically there is no requirement for registration, and the pastor must eat from the cross. According to St. Paul, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” I Corinthians 9:14. It would therefore be against scripture for us to condemn these pastors. However, we must teach other scriptures which demand that churches be organized in such ways that they have elders (see Titus 1:5). And that the congregation has a say in the use of the offering and that there is a spirit of understanding legality within the leadership of the church.

According to former Registrar general now retired, “I tried to streamline the churches so that we do not have the fake groups who are taking advantage of the people. However, some of them are so politically powerful that we let them be, even though we knew they were violating the law. We did not want to get fired. Remember I worked for the Attorney General of Kenya who is a political appointee” (Bernice Gachegu, (2017) former Registrar General).

She also argued that churches have become so political that they have also corrupted the office of the registrar of society. The common believer who goes to church to join others in worship, praise, give thanks to God is not educated in these matters. However it is important to realize that becoming a member of a church has certain legal aspects and it is important to know which church is legally instituted and which is not. Understanding this helps believers in their service to Christ.

Where does the Bible stand in these issues of church registration and Governments? Does God care about all these issues? Click the link below if you missed part 1

Corona Lockdown: Should Governments Close Down Churches.

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) is a philosopher and theologian. He is senior columnist for diaspora messenger.com. He holds several degrees and Doctorates in Philosophy, Theology and is currently a candidate for a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology.

You can reach him at [email protected]

Join Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) again tomorrow as he continues with this important series of Church, God, Satan, Man, and Governments.

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  1. Why a Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Bishop to close down the church - Africans Radio

    […] post Why a Chief in Kenya ordered a senior Bishop to close down the church appeared first on Diaspora Messenger News […]

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