Address Criminality, Catholic Bishops in Kenya Fault Move to Regulate Religious Entities

KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde. Credit: ACI Africa

Catholic Bishops in Kenya have faulted the move by President William Samoei Ruto-led government to regulate religious organizations and practices.

In their latest criticism of the Kenyan government, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) made reference to President Ruto’s establishment of a Taskforce on May 4 to facilitate the reviewing of the Legal and Regulatory Framework Governing Religious Organizations in Kenya amid investigations into the Shakahola starvation cult in the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi in Kilifi County.

“As a conference, we are concerned that instead of the government seeking to address the matter, attention is now on the regulation of churches,” KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, said in reference to the revelations around the starvation cult led by “pastor” Paul Mackenzie Nthenge of the Good News International Church.

Archbishop Kivuva who was addressing the congregation during the Episcopal Ordination of the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese, Bishop Cleophas Oseso Tuka, cautioned the Kenyan government against “demonizing the practice of religion” in the country.

“We ask our political leaders to stop demonizing the practice of religion because of an obvious criminal act that would have been abated if our security agencies were alert and the plight of the people of Kenya,” the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Mombasa Archdiocese said during the May 6 event. 


He said KCCB members were “saddened” by the fact that the criminal activities, including “a massacre” in Shakahola forest had been going on for years.

“We remember them and especially relatives and friends who may have lost their dear ones there. The conference continues to keep them in our hearts,” Archbishop Kivuva said, adding that KCCB members are considering visiting victims of the Shakahola massacre to console and condole with them.

Shakahola death toll has rose to 133 as 21 additional bodies were exhumed on Tuesday, May 9, from the 800-acre Forest land linked to Paul Mackenzie, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.

Mackenzie is accused of convincing his followers to starve themselves to death in order to “meet Jesus”, according to media reports about the Kenyan preacher who was earlier linked to children’s death

Speaking during the May 6 Episcopal Ordination event, Kenya’s Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, said the church should not be indiscriminately condemned over the Shakahola deaths.

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“I want to urge those who are talking about Kilifi not to condemn the entire church of Christ and all the pastors. The church is a reflection of society … What happens in society is the same thing that happens in the church,” Mr. Gachagua said.

He added, “What happened in Kilifi by whatever name is unacceptable. And the government will not allow anyone to hide behind the pulpit and the church of Christ to commit crimes. Criminals will be dealt with as criminals in accordance with the laws of the country, the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act.” 

Kenya’s Deputy President also said that said that the country is at risk of losing an entire generation to drugs and alcoholism, and asked the church to mentor the youth and help them overcome the challenges of drug abuse and alcoholism.