Christianity is a death cult

Do I need to explain this? Thulsa Doom was not a role model.

A religious cultist in Kenya did not get the memo, though. Pastor Paul Mackenzie has been telling his parishioners that they can meet Jesus sooner by starving themselves to death. The end result: mass graves.

The number of people who died after a Kenyan pastor ordered his followers to starve to death in order to meet Jesus has surpassed 300, authorities said Tuesday, and the death toll is expected to rise as more exhumations are planned.

The death toll increased to 303 after 19 more bodies were recovered from mass graves in the vast forested land in Kilifi County of coastal Kenya, where pastor Paul Mackenzie and his followers lived.

Coastal regional commissioner Rhoda Onyancha told local journalists that 613 people tied to the area are missing.

There are a couple of pastors in this region who have been misinforming their congregations in ways that lead to mass deaths — it’s like a morbid evangelical revival.


  1. nomaduk says

    To be fair, Thulsa Doom (in the film, at least) was building an army of followers to help him conquer — well, pretty much everything he could. Not so much a suicide-oriented death cult (though, of course, his followers could be convinced to kill themselves in his service).

    But, yes, not a rôle model, in any case.

  2. wzrd1 says

    It’s telling that Paul Mackenzie isn’t one of the deceased, damning even. At least he’s still in police custody.
    Ironic that PZ posts this just as I finished reading an article on a specific slow killing parasitic species. In that species, the fungus kills only once it girdles a tree. Not sure what this species of monster gains via his predation, but I’m certain it’ll be a nauseating picture once revealed in court.

  3. robro says

    Shades of Jonestown, although Jones died too and Mackenzie looks fit. Apparently he’s not starving himself to meet Jesus. There’s a second preacher, Ezekiel Odero, who has also been held due to deaths among his congregation at a megachurch.

    There are also dead children. In fact, according to this BBC story and Mackenzie’s deputy pastor, children were targeted to die first. Some of them were buried while still breathing.

    “Right to life” only goes so far for some Christians.

    wzrd1 @ #2 — From the first linked article, it’s not clear that Mackenzie will stay in police custody.

    BTW Is “Death Cult Christian” a band name?

  4. raven says

    I saw this a while ago.
    What is striking is how so many died, 300 known and 600 are still missing.

    And…no one reported any of these people missing or in danger!!!
    Didn’t they have any relatives or friends who cared enough to wonder what happened to them?

    The other thing that is implied is how bleak these people’s lives must be.
    Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
    They could always live their lives out and meet jesus later. After all, life is short but eternity is forever.

  5. robro says

    raven @ #4 — The BBC story features a photo of a woman in tears with the caption “Family members of those who died in the cult have been mourning.” So there are others around but it does beg the question of what they did as their children began to disappear. Of course, it might be that the Kalifi region is dominated by such evangelical preachers, so the families are also members of these megachurches and trust the preachers. American evangelicals have invested heavily in Africa a la Pat Robertson.

  6. darrelplant says

    Mackenzie, Jones, and those guys are pikers. I heard tell of a cultist and his lieutenants who told their followers that medical science was a lie and managed to kill more than a million people.

  7. seversky says

    I don’t understand. Why starve? There are many quicker ways to off yourself if you’re that keen to get to a one-on-one with JC. Come to that why bother? According to the Bible JC and his Dad can pop into our world at will. Besides, isn’t suicide a sin?

  8. birgerjohansson says

    At least Thulsa Doom was not afraid to lead from the front, sharing the dangers of his armed flunkies.
    As cult leaders go, he had style.
    Plus, he had a knack for shape-changing.
    Our cult leaders are cowards.
    And they cannot change appearence without hair dye.
    If Thulsa Doom entered the Republican primaries it would be a gigantic step up.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Isn’t this guy a former taxi driver? He should get a gun and pick fights with dangerous gangstas, not mess with ordinary people.

  10. robro says

    darrelplant @ #6 — Too true, and that million is just in the US. I’m sure his rhetoric led to the deaths of many people outside the US who followed his denials of reality. Of course, he’s a piker compared to the leaders of the 1930s/40s and the estimated 80 million killed by the events following from their twisted mind set.

  11. says

    Doesn’t all this point out that there are massive numbers of gullible jebus worshipping sheople. We should do what is reasonable to help people with emotional problems who can be reached. Yet, I know it is not a kind thing to say, but, should we really go to extreme efforts to try to prevent this sort of self-destructive behavior in those who reject all help? If someone is determined to jump off a cliff, shouldn’t we let go before they reach the edge so they don’t take us with them? Based on my experiences, I think, in some instances, the old adage applies here: ‘no good deed goes unpunished’

  12. wzrd1 says

    Wow, 95 were rescued and taken to the hospital for treatment, then taken to a shelter, where 65 went on a hunger strike and were arrested.

  13. brucej says

    What, having an actual execution device as it’s symbol hasn’t clued everyone in???

  14. John Morales says

    Religion is an useful tool; I wonder what happened to the assets of the victims.

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @14: OT: when you’re speaking, would you actually say “an useful tool” rather than “a useful tool”?

  16. John Morales says

    Yes, Rob. I would, I do, I have done so.

    A and an are two different forms of the same word: the indefinite article a that is used before noun phrases. Use a when the noun or adjective that comes next begins with a consonant sound. Use an when the noun or adjective that comes next begins with a vowel sound. Remember that what matters is the pronunciation, not the spelling.”


  17. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @16: From your link;

    Here are some examples of the article a followed by words that begin with consonant sounds. In two cases the word after a starts with vowel letter, but the pronunciation still begins with a consonant sound.
    a European country (European begins with the vowel letter e, but the sound y.)

    a university president (University begins with the vowel letter u, but the sound y.)

  18. John Morales says

    Heh. Well, Rob, you asked, I answered it.

    Anyway, to the substance of my comment: what do you reckon, was this dude impoverishing himself from his ministrations to his flock, or the opposite?

    You reckon he is genuinely being Christian? I mean, that’s what it says on the label.

  19. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @18: Heh indeed. Do you ever admit you’re wrong?

    Religion attracts grifters, as does any ideology. No, grifters are not genuinely anything except self-serving, regardless of the label.

    Any more questions with obvious answers?

  20. John Morales says

    I’m not wrong, Rob.
    Far as I’m concerned, ‘useful’ begins with a vowel sound.
    As does ‘university’. Of course, you’d have to hear me speak to get that.

    Religion attracts grifters, as does any ideology. No, grifters are not genuinely anything except self-serving, regardless of the label.

    So religion is, to you, just another ideology.
    One in which you yourself don’t partake, but which you respect.
    Fertile ground for grifters.

    Any more questions with obvious answers?

    Perhaps you could first answer the one posed to you.

    Again: what do you reckon, was this dude impoverishing himself from his ministrations to his flock, or the opposite?

  21. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @20: I don’t respect ideologies. I respect people, if I deem them worthy of respect.

    Your question: I don’t know. Smells like a grifter. He wasn’t starving himself. I suspect he and Trump would get on very well.

  22. John Morales says

    I don’t respect ideologies. I respect people, if I deem them worthy of respect.

    Well, over the years, I have somehow gotten the impression that you respect religion and the religious. Weird, huh? ;)

    But fair enough; you don’t respect religion, it being an ideology.

    Your question: I don’t know. Smells like a grifter. He wasn’t starving himself.

    Close enough to a direct answer.

  23. John Morales says

    In passing, ‘pastor’ as in ‘shepherd’, thus ‘flock’ is appropriate

    (What does a shepherd do with their flock? Fleece them, at best)

  24. John Morales says

    Heh, Rob.
    My problem?
    What’s problematic about it? That it bothers you?

    My impressions may be my problem (except when my actions based on them impinge upon others), but consider other possibilities — for example, my perceptions may be veridical; that is, it may be you are in denial about your useful idiot status for religionists and can’t bring yourself to acknowledge it but that others see how it goes. I recall many instances where I or another has mentioned how pernicious religious beliefs are, and you’ve had to retort that it’s not the religion that’s the problem, but how it’s used.

    I put it to you that religionists’ religion analogously is their problem (same except when).

    I mean, in this case, all the victims had a problem with their religion, in that they starved (and are starving) themselves to death on that basis.
    Seems to me to be more of a problematic than what you call my “problem”.

  25. Jazzlet says


    Suicide is specifiically forbidden by (nearly?) all branches of Christianity, makes sense when you think about it from their point of view. If taking your life to meet your saviour more quickly was permitted it would likely mean that Christianty ceased to exist pretty fast, plus it would deprive the Church of years of opportunities to weasel money out of you as you earned rather than taking whatever was left on your early demise.

  26. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @25:

    it may be you are in denial about your useful idiot status for religionists

    That’s what I like about you, John. You never cease to amuse.

    PS What’s that animal over there? Ah, it’s an llama.

  27. John Morales says

    Well, Rob, I too was gonna be jocular but reconsidered and instead wrote what I wrote, at least trying to keep the victims and the perpetrator of this instance somewhere in the topic.

    But fine, joke away. It’s only a tragedy, after all.

    They didn’t do it because they were religious, you say, but because they were duped.
    But then, they were duped because they were religious. No?

    Anyway, I say religion is pernicious, you say it’s just another type of ideology.

    Anyway, Christianity is a wide spectrum, but generally it entails believing that this life is but a prelude, a testing ground for the afterlife. Consequently, adherents tend to deprecate their actual life in favour of the afterlife. This case being extreme, of course.

    In passing, Catharism was like that, but more into overall self-abnegation — the intent was not to die (that was a consequence) but to be pure.
    Heretical sect to Christians, so they extirpated it with prejudice.
    Back when they had the power to do that.

    (Also, I remember Heaven’s Gate. Only somewhat Christian-ish)

  28. John Morales says

    I mean, I get their perspective given their belief, not entirely being lacking in theory of mind.

    OK. So, Christianity, in general.
    There’s Heaven, and there’s Hell. The Good Place, the Bad Place.

    These people sought to go to Heaven (only way to meet Jesus in person, these days) and believe/believed they can expedite that goal without having to spend an entire Earthly lifetime following the rules and strictures of their version of Christianity, where any misstep might be fatal. So. Just get it done, skip the actual living this life bit, go straight to Heaven.

    (Of course, anyone choosing that path has little use for earthly possessions)

  29. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @30:

    They didn’t do it because they were religious, you say

    No, I don’t say. Must be another of your “impressions”. As I have said on numerous occasions, particular beliefs can have horrible consequences. Those beliefs can be religious.

    You remind me of those rightwing twits who say communism is inherently evil because of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

  30. John Morales says

    I also suspect that, given similar incidents in the past, at least some of the victims were, um, “helped” or “encouraged” when their will weakened.

  31. drew says

    Thulsa Doom and Christian Death are both pretty amazing bands and quite the way to start the day though.

    “Pastor Paul Mackenzie” would be a kick-ass band name!

  32. John Morales says


    Must be another of your “impressions”

    Nope, it’s another of my impressions.

    Seems to me that it’s not obvious to you how I distinguish between fact and opinion when I express myself. Most people don’t notice, either, so don’t feel inferior thereby.

    Those beliefs can be religious.

    Those beliefs were in fact religious.

    Do you seriously imagine that, were it not for the religious aspect, these people would have supported each other in starving to death?

    You remind me of those rightwing twits who say communism is inherently evil because of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

    It shouldn’t, since forever and a day I’ve maintained that religion is pernicious, which is hardly synonymous with saying it’s evil. See, evil entails intent, whereas perniciousness entails something that is merely harmful.
    Category errors are also something I try to avoid.

  33. maat says

    We make god[s] in our image. I know many religious people who are kind and compassionate and consequently choose to believe they are worshiping a loving god. Almost none of them have read the Bible…
    Yes, it is a death cult, hence dangerous in many ways, some less obvious than others, for it not only condones bigotry, hatred and violence, but also absolves from responsibility for what happens in ‘this’ life. And, of course, contrary to what they would have us believe, it is based on the fear of death, translated by religious authorities into a holy ‘fear of god’ with which to terrify and manipulate.