May 3, 2023

CultNEWS101 Articles: 5/3/2023 (Kenya, Good News International Church, Scientology)

Kenya, Good News International Church, Scientology

RNS: As death toll mounts in Kenya church, local clergy wonder at scale of indoctrination
"In an expansive forest near Kenya's southern coast, detectives have been exhuming bodies of people who starved to death to go to "heaven," allegedly at the orders of a Christian pastor.

Anger and shock gripped the East African nation as families learned Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the leader of the Good News International Church, ordered members to pray and fast to death so they could meet Jesus. When the people died, Nthenge and other members reportedly buried their bodies in shallow graves in Shakahola, an 800-acre forest ranch near Malindi, a tourist town on the Indian Ocean.

"Shakahola" means "a place of treating people's problems," according to retired Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, whose home is near the area. Kalu wonders if the place's meaning held a special appeal to Nthenge.

"When he bought the land in Shakahola, he told the people that he wanted to practice farming," Kalu told Religion News Service.

"It got us by surprise. I do not know where he got this kind of theology. Christians pray and fast, but they don't do it until their death," he said. "I think we could not detect it because most of the victims are people from upcountry. The area is also sparsely populated."

The death toll now stands at 90, with 26 new bodies exhumed Monday (April 24) from the mass graves in the ranch. Local teams anticipate more bodies in the ongoing search — the Kenyan Red Cross Society said on Sunday that 112 people had been reported missing to a tracing desk it set up near where the church was located — and Kenyans from different parts of the country have traveled to the area searching for their relatives.

Many are decrying the Good News International Church as a cult and calling Nthenge a cult leader.

"It's indeed a worrying trend to watch how many desperate and innocent Kenyans are being spiritually terrorized or swindled by multiple fake pastors and cultic leaders," said Roman Catholic Bishop Wilybard Kitogho Lagho of the Malindi Diocese on April 24. "What makes cultism a complicated phenomena to deal with is that cult followers believe their religious, sect or cult leader is always right, and their leader has the exclusive means of knowing 'truth.'"
"The death toll at a ranch in coastal Kenya that is owned by a pastor who is accused of leading a religious cult and ordering his followers to starve themselves reached 90 on Tuesday, as the country's interior minister announced an expanded operation at the site.

The new figure came after police exhumed 17 more bodies. The total number of those rescued while starving at the ranch now stands at 34.

The Kenya Red Cross Society's latest figure on the number of missing is 213.

Pastor Paul Makenzi, who heads the Good News International Church, is accused of luring his followers to the ranch near the town of Malindi. He allegedly told them to fast to death in order to meet Jesus before burying them in shallow graves spread across his land. He was arrested after police raided the property earlier this month, and he remains in police custody."
"Please don't ever tell me to hold on," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedo snapped at Danny Masterson's lead lawyer Phillip Cohen in a remarkable moment Monday afternoon over the defense's opening statements in Masterson's rape retrial.

With the jury sent out of the courtroom suddenly less than half an hour into Cohen's remarks, Olmedo made it clear to all in the full courtroom that this trial was not going to be run like the last one last year.

"The court is not going to allow the parties to go into the weeds," the judge said sternly to both the defense and the prosecution Monday as the same problems that slowed down the previous five-week trial began to emerge. Pledging no sidebars and other occasions that could eat up time in the retrial, Olmedo got to a place today that it took her more than a week to reach in the last trial – – and she made sure the courtroom knew the rules.

Taking Cohen to task as she did many times before in the last trial, Olmedo also bluntly told the defense lawyer, "Mr. Cohen please do not use quotes, do not use previous testimony." To cut off Cohen's repeated mentioning of private and protected information of the Jane Does in front of the jury, onlookers and the typing media, the judge said "stop apologizing for using first names — just don't do it!"

"Opening statement is a preview from the lawyers …that is to be done in good faith," said Cohen earlier in the afternoon during his own opening statement in his client's rape retrial. "There are a couple of pieces of testimony that [Assistant D.A. Reinhold Mueller] referred to in good faith that I want to talk about," he added, allegedly going off script to take a series of jabs at the Los Angeles District Attorney's office."

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