Before the coming of Missionaries and Arabs to Uganda, there were African Traditional Religions that were believed in by the people. Different kingdoms or tribes had their own culture of worshipping their gods. The coming of Christianity and Islam led to the conversion ofmany people to Christianity and other Religions.
New Religious organizations known as Born-again Churches (BAC) consisting of mainly Pentecostals and Evangelicals have established themselves in Uganda as well.
However, some people continue to pay allegiance to their African traditional Religions to date.
Government has overtime recognized the need to regulate religious activities. The 1975 military regime of late President Idi Amin, in its bid to regulate the religious activities reacted by banning born - again churches and such organizations and due recognition by the State was only extended to the traditional faiths in Uganda.
Paradoxically, the regime gained notoriety for and was accused of religious persecution, notwithstanding the establishment of a Ministry for Religious Affairs.
The coming into power of the National Resistance Movement in 1986 ushered in religious tolerance that led to freedom of worship and opened the doors for born again churches. This coupled with the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and promulgation of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, guaranteed the enjoyment of the right to freedom of Religion which has had both positive and negative implications on the Citizens of Uganda.
Currently, Government is committed to meaningful respect of the right to religious freedom. Indeed the government observes a number of religious holidays as national holidays. These include Easter holiday, Eid el Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Martyrs day and Christmas holiday.
The Government is aware that whereas all religious denominations are agreed on the need for all people to respect the divine virtues based on love for one another, it is also aware that there are a few people who have sought to cover up certain irreligious activities with nothing in mind but the promotion of their own personal, political, tribal or sectional ends, under the umbrella of religion. Hence need for coordination and monitoring of Religious activities in Uganda.
Functions of the Department
- Mobilize Faith-based organizations to embrace and collaborate in Government of Uganda (GOU) policies, programmes and projects in line with the National Development Plan and Vision 2040.
- Foster Partnership, collaboration and support between Government and Faith-based organizations fighting corruption and other forms and symptoms of moral decadence.
- Develop Policy and Regulations for operations of the Faith-based organizations in Uganda
- Develop Database and maintain a register of Faith-based organizations in Uganda.
- Design and Disseminate materials for use by Faith-based organizations in the fight against corruption and all other forms of repugnant faith practices
- Promote Inter and Intra religious harmony/reconciliations.
- Sensitization for recognition and support of religious Institutions to the development and building of moral values in the Country
- Generally participate in activities and programmes of the Inter-Agency Forum (IAF) for the fight against corruption.
- Coordinate and monitor the activities of religious and faith-based organizations in Uganda to promote ethics, values, morals and integrity
The Ministry of Public Service has approved the structure, staff establishment and Job descriptions for the Departments follows;
1. Director Religious Affairs
2. Commissioner-Religious Affairs Regulation
3. Assistant Commissioner-Religious Affairs- Monitoring& Evaluation
4. Assistant Commissioner-Religious Affairs- Policy& Standards
5. Principal Ethics Officer –Religious Affairs-Advocacy and Support
6. Principal Ethics Officer –Religious Affairs-Vetting
7. Senior Ethics Officer- Religious Affairs- Monitoring& Evaluation
8. Senior Ethics Officer- Religious Affairs- Policy& Standards
9. Ethics Officer- Religious Affairs- Monitoring& Evaluation
10. Ethics Officer- Religious Affairs- Policy& Standards
Administrative Support Staff
- Personal Secretary
- Steno Secretary
- Office Attendant
A work plan based on the Key Functions of the department has been developed. However, at the moment the department has decided to concentrate on developing a national draft policy on Religious Organizations in Uganda. The Policy will help the State identify Religious Organizations that are potentially dangerous to the community and those that promote the common good and are in line with the National Development Plan of the Country.