A Kenyan Christian pastor has been arrested for allegedly killing his church members.
Ezekiel Ombok Odero, pastor of the New Life Prayer Center and Church, was arrested for “allegations of deaths that have been occurring at this premises and reported in various morgues or institutions,” ChurchLeaders.com reports.
He faces charges “related to [the] mass killing of his followers,” CNN reports. New Life Prayer Center and Church has also been shut down.
Odero has denied the allegations and called the investigation “a fishing expedition” meant to “taint” his name.
Odero’s case is linked to Paul Makenzie Nthenge, who was arrested earlier this month.
Nthenge allegedly urged followers to starve themselves to death so they could “meet Jesus.”
Police have found 90 bodies on the property of his Good News International Church.
Odero is an evangelist who sold fabric scraps and water that he claimed were holy and could heal diseases.
Odero says people need “strong faith” for the holy water to work. He allegedly drives a Lexus and carries a Bible.
“People crowd my church because I am the chosen one,” he told a reporter last year.
Police say Odero doesn’t have a degree and didn’t attend seminary, but he says he “trained on the job” while working for a televangelist in Mombasa.
Police, however, say Odero helped indoctrinate people with Nthenge. He also allegedly ferried the bodies of those who died inside the church.
Odero “would indoctrinate his followers, with sick relatives, to bring them to the church for him to perform miracles,” a police report stated. “Many of the patients who were terminally ill would have been reported to have died awaiting prayers at the church; these deaths were never reported to police.”
“While the state remains respectful of religious freedom, the horrendous blight on the conscience must lead not only to the most severe punishment, but tighter regulation of every church, mosque, temple, or synagogue going forward,” Kenya’s Interior Minister Kindiki asserted following the arrest.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrey Popov
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.