IRCU (Inter Reigious Council of Uganda)

Following the media reports about the intended Religious Policy, whose intent has come under question, being perceived as an instigation and subterfuge by traditional religions to curtail our Pentecostal Church growth and has attracted vehement reactions from many Pastors, I found it necessary to clarify on one key related aspect.

Based on the perception that traditional religions are always look at Pentecostals as a threat and working in the background to undermine our existence, one of the concerns raised by some of our members relates to the question of why we joined the IRCU. I have therefore, decided to address this matter in writing so that it is on record. This narrative will explain What IRCU is, and Where IRCU came from.

The IRCU was formed in 2001 as an umbrella body of the major religions in Uganda. The IRCU is not a branch nor an extension of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which is comprised of only Christian Churches or denominations. Many pastors confuse the two to be the same, and yet even from the names of the two bodies, the difference is clear.

The first reason was the war in northern Uganda. Joseph Kony ravaged the north and the religions were responding differently. So Archbishop Nkoyoyo and others felt they needed to intervene somehow but with one voice to speak to government especially about talking with Kony. That is why the main slogan was coined as “Religions for Peace.”

The second reason was the political contestations which followed the 2001 elections. Calming a rather tense situation that obtained in the aftermath of the election. Similar to the recent 2016 elections.

The third reason was to respond to the national effort against HIV/AIDS. President Bush, a born again believer, wanted to support the fight against Aids and he wanted it done through Churches. But the American policy does not allow religious favouritism. This is in accordance with the First Amendment of the American Constitution. It bars government from supporting or promoting a single religious denomination with taxpayers’ money. So if the support had to go to Faith based organisations, it had to go to all of them equally

At that time Uganda government had been arguing religious leaders to use their pulpits to fight Aids. So President Bush started the Presidential Emergency Program For Aids Relief (PEPFAR) initiative, which was to be managed by USAID. But USAID’s policy is that they do not deal with individual groups. So, if they were to deal with the Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) to fight Aids, these FBOs, just like other civic societies they were already funding, needed to have a single body which would disburse, monitor and evaluate the funds received. This is their policy and it applies in every nation. This is when IRCU was formed.