Nairobi — In the country which is shocked by the massacre in the Shakahola forest (see Fides, 3/5/2023), requests are multiplying to regulate not so much freedom of worship as the compliance with the laws of those who lead religious communities.
In a meeting between representatives of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK, which brings together the majority of Kenya’s Protestant communities), the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) in the North Rift region, state institutions were asked for greater controls on religious teachers in schools and decisive action against preachers who violate human rights.
“one should have legislation to regulate how one practices their faith… because some of the ways some practice their religion is against human rights and laws of land because there is killing, human sacrifice or organ harvesting”, stated Reverend Joseph Barasa from NCCK. “We proposed that only those religious leaders who have attended a theological school should be allowed to teach or preach. Before a ‘religious leader’ is allowed to teach from a pulpit, he must prove that he understands what he is teaching”, said Rev. Barasa .
There is also the need to control who goes to preach in schools because there have been cases of “misleading teachings” that put an entire generation of students at risk.
Participants at the conference point out how unscrupulous ‘preachers’ take advantage of the country’s economic difficulties to lure their followers with promises of false gains from the cult practices they promote.
Yesterday, Sunday, May 14, the President of Kenya, William Ruto, took responsibility for his failure to prevent the Shakahola massacre committed by followers of the ‘Good News International Church’, who starved themselves in order ‘to reach Jesus Christ’, following the indications of the “preacher” Paul Nthenge Mackenzie. “I am not taking it lightly. I am taking responsibility that as president this should not have happened”, Ruto said on television. “And certainly, some people who are responsible for this failure on the part of government will have to give an account”, he added, citing in particular “our intelligence, and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID)”. There were indeed failures in the police and judicial system that allowed the Shakahola tragedy to occur. Mackenzie had in fact been arrested earlier this year on suspicion of the murder of two children by starvation and suffocation, but was later released on bail.
Relatives of his followers claim that after Mackenzie was released, he returned to Shakahola Forest and moved the predicted end of the world date from August to April 15.
On April 14, the police raided the forest where his “church” was based, rescuing 15 people who were starving. More than 200 bodies have so far been exhumed. But more than 600 people are still missing.