Death Toll For Evangelical Christian Cult Rises to 201; 600 Subjects Still Unaccounted For

Evangelical Christian doomsday cult members were instructed to starve themselves to death so they might meet Jesus, and authorities are still exhuming and attempting to identify victims that were buried in shallow graves in the wilderness of an 800-acre property in southeast Kenya. According to the AP, the dead toll increased to 201 on Saturday. More than 600 people are still unaccounted for. 

How such a thing could happen and how law enforcement officials could have been ignorant of it are among the concerns the nation is currently debating. The question of whether to restrict the freedom of religion that the Kenyan Constitution guarantees is the subject of the discussion. The New York Times examines Kenya's development and what transpired in the Shakahola Forest.

 

Despite not owning the land, a televangelist advertised it as a haven from the imminent end of the world and sold plots. The pandemic's arrival in 2020 increased Paul Mackenzie's credibility. The daughter of the original landowner recalled that "it was a regular church at first." 

According to a former deputy pastor, Mackenzie's "false prophecies" concerning the end of the world caused that to fall apart. "His main interest became making money, not preaching to the world." In January, Mackenzie claimed to have fresh instructions for the several residents of the property: mass hunger suicide. He reportedly advised kids to "fast in the sun so they would die faster." In March and April, women would follow suit before men. In order to help others "meet Jesus," Mackenzie would stay alive. However, before the end of the world, he would starve to death.

The previously detained Mackenzie is now in police custody. Another evangelical church member stated, "People are very angry and blame Mackenzie, but I blame the government." Many evangelical churches are self-governing entities with only their pastor as a supervisor. 

Given that evangelicals make up half of the country's population, President William Ruto Half, an evangelical himself whose wife is an evangelical preacher, has been reluctant to impose limitations on them. But he has now sought advice from legal professionals and church leaders. An advocate for human rights who visited Shakahola in March wants control. He attempted to assist the people who were dying, but they cursed him. Victor Kaudo remarked, "I wanted these starving folks to survive, but they wanted to die and meet Jesus. What are we to do? Does the right to life transcend freedom of religion? 

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