Clergy demand clampdown on conmen preachers

Written By Michael Maunda on Saturday, November 8, 2014 | 11:43 PM

Evangelical churches yesterday urged the state to crack down on conmen preachers who fake miracles to defraud their unsuspecting flocks.

The umbrella group Evangelical Alliance of Kenya called on  law enforcers to ensure those who  misuse the word of God to swindle believers are punished according to law.

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has already ordered an investigation of pastor Victor Kanyari of the Salvation Healing Ministry for allegedly obtaining money by false presences.  KTN recently reported a miracle-faking spree by Kanyari who swindled the faithful.

Victor Kanyari
Victor Kanyari
In one of his "miracles," church assistants washed feet with water mixed with potassium permanganate, which made the solution turn red and and the feet appeared to be bleeding.  It was not the first expose about the pastor.

Early this year, Kanyari was caught on tape advising a childless woman to spend the night at his house so that her first child would be “mbegu ya pastor" (pastor’s seed).

Kanyari's mother, so-called Prophetess Lucy Nduta, was jailed for two years in 2006 for receiving money after promising to cure people of HIV-Aids.  Kanyari has said he never forced anyone to contribute but admitted people had been coached to give testimonials to his powers.

Other men of God have amassed fortunes and built palatial homes by using tithes and offerings from their flock.  “Those are wolves in sheepskin whose conduct is that of charlatans and conmen, and they should be dealt with in accordance with the law, just like other criminals,” said Bishop Mark Kariuki at a press conference in Nairobi yesterday.

  “The evangelical church believes in the word of God and we are aware that there are false prophets who have existed since time immemorial.”  In a statement read on behalf of his fellow bishops, Kariuki said there should not be a blanket condemnation of the church because of one "rotten tomato".

He urged security agents to intensify vigilance and carry out thorough background checks before approving anyone who wants to register a church.

“The problem is with the National Intelligence Service. They are the ones who give clearance,” he added.  At the same time, the evangelical alliance cautioned believers, saying pastors who perform fake miracles and promise cures for a price do not belong to the evangelical fraternity.

“It is the hunger for money and the desire for miracles that is making people vulnerable to con-preachers," the evangelicals said in a statement.“Those who con believers are not our members and do not belong to the mainstream church," alliance secretary general Conniti Kitavi said.

The alliance also condemned the murder of 21 police officers in Kapedo in Turkana county o October 31. Kariuki said the government must bring the perpetrators of the "heinous act" to book, as well as those who bankroll criminal activities.