Police in Malindi are investigating a pastor suspected of indoctrinating his followers using false teachings.
Malindi police boss Matawa Muchangi said his officers raided Good News International Ministries Church on Saturday, following reports about a pastor who has made children drop out of school.
“In the church, we nabbed 35 children under the age of 10 years, 28 under the age of 16 years and 13 adults aged 18 to 35 years said to be undergoing radical training against Christian and moral teachings,” he said.
Speaking after the raid, Mr Muchangi, who identified the suspect as Mr Paul Makenzi, a well-known televangelist in the area, said police impounded Bibles, Korans, and other books and files that shall assist them in investigation.
“Some of the children interrogated said education is satanic and had left home and school to follow the pastor,” he said, adding that authorities were also in the process of identifying parents of the children to assist in investigation.
The pastor’s followers who include primary, secondary and university students kept on defending their decision to drop out of school, quoting Biblical verses.
They said education is not godly, as taught by their pastor.
The police boss said adults arrested are suspected to be the ones assisting the pastor to spread his controversial teachings that they should not seek medical care, go to school and participate in elections, referring to them as satanic.
A parent of three children who dropped out of school to join Pastor Makenzi, said the teachings had made his children unruly and hateful to their family.
“One who just joined university has refused to go to college, saying education has no religious basis,” he said, adding they are taught to solely depend on God and refer to the teachers and education officials as evil.
Mr Makenzi, whose arrest was celebrated by area residents, told the the Nation that education is evil, since it teaches that humankind evolved from apes, contrary to the Bible that says man was created by God.
Another Malindi resident Harrison Thoya said the pastor had brainwashed the children.
“I have even seen some faithful leaving their families to live in the church and failing to provide basic needs,” he said.
Good News International Church has thousands of followers in Malindi and usually streams its services live on a local TV network.