By Ifechukwu Ibeme
The basic issue here is not whether the CAMA Law is good or bad and not whether the Churches or other Religions are doing well or not, but that the Secular State is encroaching to legislate over Religious Worship bodies as if spirituality matters are same with secular association, business company, charity, NGO, CSO, etc. Failing or forgetting to distinguish Religious or spiritual matters (to which Churches, Mosques, etc. belong) from other secular businesses and associations by this CAMA Law, implies that *the government has exceeded its fundamental limit of temporal civil or secular state function and encroached on matters of religious worship and spirituality.*
*Going by the fundamental principles of “Separation Of Religion And State,” A secular association, business company, charity, NGO, or CSO, etc is formed by secular Act of Law and accountable to the secular State, But Religion And Divine Worship Cannot Be Likewise Under A Secular Act Of Law.*
Apart from her religious worship activities, if a Church (or Religion) wants to operate their own secular association, business company, charity, NGO, CSO, etc, she should form and register such associations or outfits for business, but the *Registration Of Trustees Of Any Church Or Religion Is Only For The Purposes Of Holding The Assets Of The Church Impersonally* from generation to generation, not for supervision but collaborative protection. Spiritual worship cannot be incorporated by secular State, so registration of such Religious Trusteeship of a Church cannot mean the same as incorporating the Church or Religion as if to give it right or authority of operation the same way it is for secular business associations authorized and accountable to the State). While the State owes citizens the responsibility of maintenance of order and security and protection for religious worship, yet right of worship and organization among religious worshipers is given by God and guided by their creeds and scriptures but cannot be subject to legislation, authorization or regulation by the secular State.
*The Principles Of Separation Of Church And State Is Best Explained From Its Best Authorities…*
President Thomas Jefferson of the United States of America wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to answer an earlier letter from them written in October 1801. The Danbury Baptists were a religious minority in Connecticut, and they complained that in their state, the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature — as “favors granted”. Jefferson’s reply went thus (the bracketed portion was part of the draft but blocked off in the released copy of the letter):
“Believing with you that *religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God,* that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature Should “Make No Law Respecting An Establishment Of Religion, Or Prohibiting The Free Exercise Thereof,” thus building *a wall of separation between Church & State.* [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorized only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
In 1811, United States Congress ratified a bill to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. When the bill was presented for President James Madison’s signature, he promptly vetoed it. He furnished a list of his objections, in a veto message, which in part included:
“Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the *essential distinction between civil and religious functions,* and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that *‘Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting A Religious Establishment.’* The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and polity of the church incorporated… This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration.”
*Recommended Remedy To The Cama Act 2020*
This inadvertent or obvious violation of fundamentals of Separation of Religion and State by the CAMA Law needs to be remedied in any of these two ways.
1. Repeal and/or amend the violating sections (Sections 839(1) &(7) and 842(2) and 850(1) of CAMA Act 2020) or issue guidelines to exclude or distinguish Churches, Mosques and other Religions from the secular “associations” or “corporate bodies” whose formation depend on CAC certificate.
2. Adding “excluding the Religions” or “excluding Churches and Mosques” as a clause in the affected sections (Sections 839(1) &(7) and 842(2) and 850(1) of CAMA Act 2020) since these are not “associations” or “corporate bodies” formed by the CAC certificate of the secular State but by the Word of God or the Creed of the Religion. Grace to you.
Ven Ibeme is a versatile commentator on Religious and spiritual matters