Kenya bans cult churches over public safety issues

Kenya bans cult churches over public safety issues

Kenyan cult leader Paul Mackenzie's church is among those affected with high death toll due to coerced starvation

By Andrew Wasike

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – The Kenyan government has banned five churches, including the church of the cult leader Paul Mackenzie, for urging church followers to starve themselves to death, an official said on Friday.

Registrar of Societies Maria Nyariki announced the decision in a statement.

Kenyan President William Ruto and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua cited concerns over public safety, calling for thorough investigations into the regulations of religious organizations in the country.

Self-proclaimed pastor Paul Mackenzie had persuaded followers in his Shakahola cult to fast until death with the promise of “meeting Jesus,” an incident that created waves of shocks among Kenyans.

The death toll surpassed 400 in July after the discovery of bodies in the Shakahola forest near the coastal town of Malindi, which raised concerns for the welfare of its leaders and the influence of them.

Other banned churches include Kings Outreach Church, Helicopter of Christ Church, Theophilus Church, and Royal Park Home Owners Estate Association, with substantial and devoted followings.

Investigations have been ongoing since mid-April, and 37 arrests have been made concerning the mass murders, including that of Paul Mackenzie and his wife, Joyce Mwikamba.

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