LUSAKA. – The Zambian government has announced tough measures to deal with mushrooming churches amid calls to curb “fake churches” and mercenary clergymen.
Godfridah Sumaili, Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affair, said no church would be registered without clearance from her ministry.
In a ministerial statement delivered in parliament, the minister said a legal instrument would soon be announced that would compel all churches to be registered under the Registrar of Societies.
According to Sumaili, currently some churches hide under the guise of companies by registering under the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA).
“This scrutiny will be extended to foreign mission. Foreigners who come into the country for missionary work will be subjected to this same scrutiny before travel visas are issued for them to travel to Zambia for their missionary work to avoid fake people,” she said.
The government, she said, was concerned with the mushrooming of churches and fake church leaders who were deceiving people.
There has to be a minimum standard for churches in the country, and the ministry is working with the existing church organisations to empower them so that they can regulate these churches, she added.
The conduct of some churches and clergymen has been a source of concern in Zambia for some time, with stakeholders calling on the government to come up with regulatory measures.
Some churches and their leaders have been accused of taking advantage of the gullibility of people to make quick money on the pretext that they were able to end all their problems.
News headlines of clergymen engaging in illegal and clandestine activities in the name of the church are common in Zambia, where about 87 percent of the people are Christians. Some clergymen were reportedly demanding for money and sexual favours in exchange for miracles to change people’s lives.
Last week, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), one of the church mother bodies, called on the government to protect citizens from unscrupulous individuals pretending to have powers to deal with people’s problems.
The organisation urged the government to come up with measures to control the operation of churches in the country, saying the conduct of some churches was tarnishing the image of the church. – Xinhua.