Originally published in The Christian Post
An association of churches and Christian clergy has demanded an investigation after unidentified arsonists destroyed five churches and threw human feces onto the buildings in one village in western Kenya, according to reports.
St Monica Church in Otamba village in Nyaribari Chache area of Kisii County was burned on Jan. 20, followed by similar attacks on three other churches — 100-member Worldwide Church, Seventh Day Adventist and Legio Maria — the following day, Morning Star News reported.
The fifth church, 250-member Kenya Assemblies of God, was burned down on January 24, the US-based Christian persecution news website said.
“Apart from setting the churches ablaze, the arsonists also committed the heinous acts of scooping human feces onto the buildings to discourage the faithful from attending their ruined churches,” a source was quoted as saying. “A majority of the church members were afraid to attend services [in or near the ruins] in the aftermath of the burning of the churches, fearing that the arsonists might follow them right into their homes, risking the lives of their families.”
The Church and Clergy Association of Kenya has demanded an investigation. “We demand the investigating authorities to get to the bottom of the matter and expose the agents of such heinous acts. What is the motive behind this and who are these mercenaries acting for?” it said in a statement, according to The Standard.
The churches will need to spend millions of Kenyan shillings to rebuild.
Kenya was ranked 49th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
While it’s a Christian-majority country, persecution has spread in Kenya, Open Doors says. “Particularly, Christians with a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack — even from their closest relatives. Our research revealed that Christians were attacked and forced to flee their villages, and Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has infiltrated the local population to monitor the activities of Christians in those areas.”
Organised crime is also a serious problem in the country, Open Doors adds. “Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors—increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians.”
In the country’s northeast, the al-Shabab terrorist group is a constant threat.
Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group.
In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack.