Kenya closes churches over ‘starvation massacre’ that has killed 427

by | Aug 21, 2023 | Religion

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — Months after a Kenyan pastor forced his followers to starve to death to meet Jesus, the government has banned his church and four others to protect citizens from religious extremism.The Registrar of Societies announced on Friday (Aug. 18) that it had deregistered Paul Nthenge Mackenzie’s Good News International Ministries, founded with an End Times message in 2003 and known to Kenyans as the Shakahola cult.  
Earlier this year, authorities learned that Mackenzie, the self-appointed leader of the group, had been asking his followers to fast to death in order to expedite their entry to heaven. When many obeyed and starved themselves, their bodies were quickly buried in shallow graves in the expansive Shakahola forest in the coastal county of Kilifi.
By August the total number of deaths in what is being called the Shakahola starvation massacre had reached 427.

On the day his church was deregistered, Mackenzie was in prison in Mombasa, where he has been held since surrendering to authorities in April. On Aug. 8, the court allowed the police to detain him for another 47 days to allow the completion of their investigation.
FILE – Body bags are laid out at the scene where bodies have been found in shallow graves in the village of Shakahola, near the coastal city of Malindi, in Southern Kenya on April 24, 2023. The number of people who died in connection with Kenya’s doomsday cult crossed the 400 mark as detectives exhumed 12 more bodies on July 1 …

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