“Exploiting gullible Kenyans”: Bishops on Starvation Cult, Urge “speedy investigation”

Credit: KCCB

Catholic Bishops in Kenya have joined other Christian leaders in condemning the activities of a suspected “starvation” cult in the East African nation under the auspices of “pastor” Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, revealed in dozens of deaths in the ongoing exhumation of bodies that Kenyan authorities have ordered.

In their collective statement in which they decry activities of cultic leaders who thrive in the art of “exploiting gullible Kenyans”, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) urge “speedy investigation into the circumstances” around the established deaths and burials in shallow mass graves.

“We join other Kenyans in calling for a speedy investigation into the circumstances leading to the heinous act that led gullible Kenyans to their untimely death,” KCCB members say in their Monday, April 24 statement obtained by ACI Africa.

Since April 21, Kenyan State officers have been exhuming bodies from a forest farm linked to the Christian cult leader, Mackenzie, who is behind the “Good News International Church”.

By April 24 evening, 73 bodies had been exhumed from shallow mass graves in Shakahola forest, some 70 kilometres from Malindi town in Kenya’s coastal County of Kilifi.


Five bodies “freshly wrapped in one bed sheet” were exhumed on April 22, and seven bodies in a single grave on April 24, the day a suspected mastermind allied to Mackenzie was found and arrested.

Mackenzie allegedly convinced his followers that starving themselves to death would hasten their departure from this life in order to “meet Jesus”, according to media reports about the Kenyan preacher who was earlier linked to children’s death

In their April 24 statement, KCCB members condemn in “strongest terms possible the cultic preaching” that Mackenzie has fostered over time.

They add, “As the Catholic Church, we believe that asking people to fast and die in order to meet Jesus is not Christian but a heretical teaching that should ordinarily attract corresponding disciplinary measures by the religious family where the church leader belongs.”

“It is shocking that such a sect has been allowed to perpetuate its dangerous doctrine for such a long time, leading to the loss of so many lives with the state security machinery completely unaware,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say.

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Hinting to previous exploitative practices in the name of religion in Kenya, including those by Victor Kanyari, televangelist Gilbert Deya, and James Maina Nganga, among others, KCCB members term it unfortunate that cultic leaders and so-called prophets in the country “have mastered the art of exploiting gullible Kenyans in the name of religion,” adding that their “innocent followers have lost money, property and now lives.”

They urge Kenyans to be vigilant on matters religion, saying that cultism is a dangerous phenomenon that requires that they “remain on their guard.”

“Cultic leaders usually have a very tight grip on their followers whom they influence to believe that they are always right and have exclusive knowledge of the truth,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their April 24 statement that KCCB chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa Archdiocese, signed.

In the two-page statement, KCCB members have also called for the implementation of rules regulating societies and religions in the East African country.

“We revisit the debate on the regulation of religions in the country and the resultant public outcry from Church leaders against the proposed regulation through the review of proposals in the Religious Societies Rules 2015,” they said.


The Catholic Church leaders add, “We acknowledge the challenge of self-regulation in an environment where many sects and denominations resist leadership structures and systems.”

The existence of “a strong mechanism of regulating religions”, they say, would have stopped Mackenzie from “taking advantage of Kenyans to engage in acts of mass suicide.”

“We call for a review of the proposed state laws to ensure that such rogue pastors are exposed in good time and denied the opportunity to perpetuate their dangerous acts,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say.

Such a review, they continue, “should help to identify the weak legal and religious links that cult leaders have been exploiting to brainwash their unsuspecting followers.”

As religious leaders, KCCB members further say, “we have a responsibility to work together in analyzing the religious landscape in Kenya which could be promoting dangerous cults, partnering closely with state agencies to address any cultic tendencies before they escalate out of control.”

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In their April 24 statement, KCCB members condole with the families of those who found their death in the “starvation” cult in Kenya’s Kilifi County, and implore, “May the souls of all the departed Kenyans who fell victim of the Shakahola mass suicide rest in eternal peace.”

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