NAIROBI—Christian religious groups have distanced themselves from the deaths in Shakahola Forest saying they are isolated cases warning the state against using the killings to regulate or clamp down on religious dominations in the country.
In fact, the groups maintained that Pastor Paul Mackenzie activities within the Shakahola Forest, in which nearly 265 bodies have been discovered, were criminal acts which are punishable by the law.
In a presentation to the Senate Adhoc Committee on the Proliferation of Religious Organisations, which is investigating the killings, the groups noted that the killings were occasioned by massive security failure on the part of state agencies.
The groups which appeared before the Committee, which is chaired by tana River senator Danson Mungatana, were the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK) and Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).
“There was massive security failure in preventing the Shakahola massacre and the same government has lost the moral authority to investigate the matter,” said the KCCB in a submission delivered to the committee by Fr. Wilybard Lagho of Malindi Diocese.
The biggest debate in Kenya right now: What if the rogue pastor Mackenzie was a Muslim figure, what would have been the reaction? pic.twitter.com/S1c31ceJ9Q
— Kulan Post (@kulanpost) April 27, 2023
Religious organisations subscribe to a specific mode of administration and organisation vastly from others mostly because they are heavily informed by their religious belief and the Bishops argue that it is difficult to come up with a common regulation that aligns with all of the religious organisations practices.
“Efforts towards regulation of religious organisations in Kenya will very likely open up the different religions to manipulation by different groups, especially to politicians who will likely attempt to control the activities of the various religions to fit their interests.”
In its presentations, EAK, which was represented by Dr Nelson Makanda, insisted that the Shakahola case is a criminal case and should be handled as such attributing the killings on the failure or refusal by Mackenzie to submit and be held accountable by other bodies and leaders.
They also argued that the killings symbolize the spiritual and psychosocial challenges on the part of both Mackenzie and his victims and a dysfunctional communal security and administrative structures.
“The Shakahola case should not be generalized but treated as a separate and exclusive incidence even though grievous,” said Dr Makanda.
EAK proposed that there is need to separate of regulation of religious bodies from the provisions of the Societies Act, 1968, and that all religious institutions submit under an umbrella body which will be mandated to self-regulate.
Any institution not an under an umbrella body be made subject to strict monitoring of relevant government bodies and that the law only recognizes umbrella bodies as those religious coordinating bodies forming the Inter Religious Council of Kenya and which must have existed by 2014.