Catholic clergy have called for thorough investigations into the deaths of over 80 people in Kilifi County.
“We join other Kenyans in calling for speedy investigation into the circumstances leading to the heinous act that led gullible Kenyans to their untimely deaths,” said Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops chairman Archbishop Martin Kivuva
“It is shocking that such a sect has been allowed to perpetuate its dangerous doctrine for such a long time, leading to loss of so many lives with the State security machinery completely unaware,” he added.
Archbishop Kivuva said that it was unfortunate that we are witnessing a worrying reality in the country where so-called prophets and cultic leaders have mastered the art of exploiting gullible Kenyans in the name of religion.
He noted that some innocent followers have lost money, property and now lives, and urged Kenyans to always remain on their guard.
“Cultic leaders usually have a very tight grip on their followers whom they influence to believe that they are always right and have exclusive knowledge of the truth.
"We believe that asking people to fast and die in order to meet Jesus is not Christian, but a heretical teaching that should ordinarily attract corresponding disciplinary measures by the religious family where the Church leader belongs,” said Archbishop Kivuva.
The bishops acknowledged the challenge of self-regulation in an environment where many sects and denominations resist leadership structures and systems.
They said if the country had strong mechanism of regulating religions, the long arm of the law would have stopped Makenzi. “We call for a review of the proposed State laws to ensure that rogue pastors are exposed in good time and denied opportunity to perpetuate their dangerous acts,” Kivuva said.
National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary Chris Kinyanjui said a rogue was out to mislead the masses.
“Some of the followers sold their properties and gave out the cash. He should face the law,” said Canon Kinyanjui.
Kinyanjui said the Registrar of Societies had stopped consulting the NCCK leading to mushrooming of churches whose authenticity and credibility were questionable.
“On the case of Makenzi we would like to know why our intelligence allowed him to run the church in the forest. The Kenya Forest Service should tell us how he managed to operate his church without being noticed,” he said.
The Federation of Evangelical and Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya chairman Samuel Njiriri called on the government to regulate churches in the country.
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"We support the President when he said what has been witnessed is akin to terrorism and the law should take its course," Mr Njiriri said. "Some of the preachers with ill motives have spoilt the reputation of those who are running clean gospel."
On Monday, Christ Is The Answer Ministries (Citam) Church challenged the government to conduct proper investigations.
In a television interview, Citam Presiding Bishop Calisto Odede described the doctrine of starvation as misinterpretation of the scriptures.
Politicians have equally criticised the cultic teachings that appear to have escaped the eyes of authorities in Shakahola.
"It beats logic to hear people started dying not yesterday but a long time ago with the full watch of administration and security personnel in the area," said Machakos Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi.
Additional Reporting by Victor Nzuma