Summarized by Kent Larsen
Irish Times Explains Background for Kenyan Report Against Mormons
Dublin Ireland Irish Times 13Jan00 N1
By Paul Harris
NAIROBI, KENYA -- A 1995 report from the Kenyan Presidential Commission
into the Cult of Devil Worship, leaked to the press last year, claimed
that Mormons are one of many groups in Kenya promoting devil worship.
This Irish Times article gives background information about why the
commission was looking at devil worship and why it would have named the
LDS Church as a source.
Much of East Africa is haunted by witch-killing violence as lynch mobs
in Tanzania and Uganda, Kenya's neighbors, hunt down those suspected of
casting spells, often burning them alive. In Tanzania 350 people have
been beaten or burnt to death in the last 18 months, a figure that may
actually be higher as many crimes go unreported for fear of antagonizing
the mobs. Belief in Witchcraft is prevalent in many areas of Africa.
Kenya's commission was formed in response to the situation. The
commission's findings were kept secret until last year, when the
findings were leaked into the press. "The way that report was handled,
especially with the sensationalist headlines in the press, is really
dangerous. It could easily spur people into taking violent action," said
one Western diplomatic observer.
The report has since come under criticism by many Kenyan observers, who
are outraged at the report's findings. Critics say that the commission
was staffed by conservative Christian religious leaders who used the
report to attack those religions that have been successfully taking away
their parishioners. Freemasons, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses were
among dozens of groups that the report suspected of Satanism.
"The report is an embarrassment. What is given to be evidence are the
ramblings of characters whose psychological histories we are only left
to guess," said Gitau Warigi, a columnist for the Sunday Nation
Other observers also note that the motivation for the violence against
suspected witches may have more materialistic reasons. In the current
climate, village rivalries and jealousies might lead some to label their