Kenya's attorney general has reportedly banned new religious groups from officially registering with the government amid news reports about pastors who are said to be perpetuating an illegal "miracle-faking spree."
The move comes as Kenya seeks to create stronger regulations surrounding houses of worship operating within the country, with officials claiming that they are looking to protect parishioners, according to Christianity Today.
The government's swift and restrictive action — which reportedly banned new registration effective November 11 — comes after a TV network aired an apparent expose of Victor Kenyari, a local preacher who's been accused of taking money from followers in exchange for miracles and prayer.
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The government is reportedly now investigating Kenyari to see whether he mislead adherents and violated the law in the process.
"I cannot say that I do not coach people to give testimonies," the pastor told the Daily Nation, adding, though, that he believes that people, through his work, have been "healed and blessed in many ways on a daily basis."
According to All Africa, the goal is to protect adherents from fake pastors looking to steal their money. At the center of Attorney General Githu Muigai's plan is a law called the Societies Act, which sets rules and regulations for clubs and organizations in Kenya.
"I have proposed to the government a framework for the registration and management of religious communities, churches, mosques and temples that reflects transparency accountability and spirituality," the attorney general told All Africa.
See the media investigation that sparked the government's involvement below:
In addition to banning new churches from officially registering, the move will require existing houses of worship to file paper work detailing financial records, among other related issues; it is unclear when the crackdown on new houses of worship will be lifted.
Some, including Evangelical Alliance of Kenya chairman Mark Kariuki, believe that the decision to ban new religious groups is, in essence, an act of persecution, Christianity Today reported.
"We see this as persecution of the church and we call on all Christians to support us and stand with us." Kariuki said in an interview with the Standard. "When it comes to matters of faith, people are willing to die for the faith and we will stand firm with the church."
Faith leaders and other stakeholders met with Muigai on Friday to discuss the proposals, with some religious leaders reportedly storming out of the meeting, accusing the attorney general of deception.
Religious leaders who left and refused to attend later told the Standard that they felt that the attorney general was dishonest in turning what they thought would be a closed-door meeting into a public event.
Muigai has denied that the government is cracking down on religious freedom.
(H/T: Christianity Today)
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