A Christian doomsday cult in Kenya aimed to have children die first in its last days, starving them before adults followed suit.
Police are investigating what appeared to be a mass suicide in Kenya’s southeastern region, where 201 bodies have so far been found in a wooded area, according to a BBC report on Sunday.
Investigators believe the bodies are linked to the alleged Christian apocalyptic cult of Pastor Paul Mackenzie, whose assistant preacher, Titus Katana, recently told the New York Times that the children were killed first and ordered to “fast at sun so that they would die faster”.
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Katana has helped authorities investigate the cult and has provided shocking details about its workings, including an interview with The Sunday Times in which she described child abuse such as forcing them to be locked inside huts for days without food or water.
“Then they wrapped them in blankets and buried them, even the ones who were still breathing,” she told the outlet.
Cult followers were reportedly told they’d get to heaven faster if they starved to death, the BBC reported, while autopsies of the bodies found showed signs of starvation, suffocation and beatings.
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More than 600 people who followed Mackenzie’s cult remain missing, while the alleged leader of the Good News International Church is in police custody and has denied allegations that he forced followers to starve.
Katana told The New York Times that Mackenzie has been preaching against education, claiming it is satanic after receiving a “revelation from God.” Mackenzie also allegedly encouraged members not to seek medical attention during childbirth and preached against parents vaccinating their children.
Katana said he left the church after he began to find some of Mackenzie’s teachings too “weird,” eventually deciding to help authorities investigate the church he helped lead.
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Online writings and video sermons uncovered by the BBC show that much of Mackenzie’s teachings revolved around the fulfillment of Biblical doomsday prophecies, with warnings about satanic forces ruling the world and the dangers of science.