Deceived by Faith: The Rise of Cults Disguised as Churches

Deceived by Faith: The Rise of Cults Disguised as Churches

By Shirley Kariuki

The intent of a church is to offer a secure and friendly setting where people may gather to worship and deepen their religion. But not all religious institutions are exactly what they seem to be. Some cults appear as churches in order to attract naive members and control them for their own ends. Cults that pass for churches have come under increased scrutiny in Kenya in recent years.

Cult leaders camouflage in charisma

 These groups frequently have charismatic leaders who utilise their alleged closeness to God to control their members. To provide the impression that they are respectable, these cults frequently employ biblical language and imagery, yet their beliefs frequently depart greatly from traditional Christianity.

 Additionally, they could keep their members apart from their families and communities, making it hard for them to escape or get assistance.

Red flags to isolate cults

The following are some red flags indicating a church might truly be a cult: The group’s leader or leaders expect complete allegiance and obedience from its followers.

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To prevent outside influences, the organisation isolates its members from their friends and families

The group maintains tight guidelines and standards for members’ conduct, attire, and beliefs.

The organisation manipulates its members by fear, guilt, or humiliation. Large financial or time contributions to the group are encouraged or required of members. It’s crucial to keep in mind that any measures implemented by the government to stop the growth of cultic churches must be balanced with safeguarding individuals’ rights to exercise their religion freely and without fear of retaliation or discrimination.

A Kenyan religious cult leader for instance is accused of pushing followers to starve to death and lately is facing additional charges including terrorism and child trafficking.

Also read: Kenyan cult leader accused of inciting children to starve to death

Self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who set up the Good News International Church in 2003, is accused of inciting followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus”. Over 109 people were confirmed dead, most of them children.

Shirley Kariuki is a journalism student at  Kabianga University, shirleykariuki24@gmail.com

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