Saturday, May 21, 2011

Man found dead in church on ‘doomsday’

STEPHEN MUDIARI |  NATION A billboard with a message on the end of the world at the Globe Cinema roundabout in Nairobi. The so-called rapture did not occur as predicted.

STEPHEN MUDIARI | NATION A billboard with a message on the end of the world at the Globe Cinema roundabout in Nairobi. The so-called rapture did not occur as predicted.  

By DANIEL WESANGULA dwesangula@ke.nationmedia.com AND AGENCIES

If you are reading this, your world did not end on Saturday at 6 p.m. But earlier in the day, that of a middle-aged man ended in a suspected suicide.

The victim reportedly made his way into a store at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, hours before American evangelist Harold Camping had predicted the world would end at 6 p.m. Witnesses say the man entered the prayer sanctuary during the early morning mass.

In a statement to police, catechist Michael Waweru, who found the body hanging from metal bars above the store’s entrance, said he opened a side security door at the back of the church at around 7,15 a.m. At that time, the body was not there.

“We normally do this to allow church workers to access washing materials for the church and to give access to florists. This is the norm every morning,” he said.

Suicide time

It is believed that it was between this time and the time mass ended that the man entered the room and used an electric chord to hang himself.

The body was found at 9 a.m. Police took it away. The man’s identity, age or reasons for taking his own life could not be immediately established.

Peter Kamau, the priest in charge, told the Sunday Nation that this is the first time anyone had chosen Holy Family Basilica to end their life.

Mr Camping’s prediction that the world would end in a huge earthquake was received differently throughout the country.

As believers of his Christian Family Network ministry prepared themselves for judgement day and the return of the Messiah, atheists in the United States were preparing for what they termed “the best damned party in North Carolina”.

According to the BBC news website, the rapture-after party in Fayetteville, North Carolina, will be a two-day event organised by the Central North Carolina Atheists and Humanists.

“Though the absurdity of this claim is obvious to the majority of the world, it’s a great opportunity to highlight some of the most bizarre beliefs often put forth by religious fundamentalists and raise awareness of the need for reason,” read a statement on the group’s website.

Similar parties were being planned in Tacoma, Washington, Houston, Texas, and in Florida and California.

Mr Camping, 89, had predicted that Jesus Christ would return on Saturday and true believers were to be swept up to heaven.

He had used broadcasts and billboards to publicise his belief that a giant earthquake yesterday would have marked the start of the world’s destruction, and that by October 21 all non-believers would be dead.

But this is not the first time the doomsday preacher has preached doom and gloom to the world. He did so in 1994, though followers now say the 1994 incident only referred to an intermediary stage.

Despite his previous failed prediction, Mr Camping was convinced that yesterday the world, as we know it, would change.

“We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen,” he told the US Christian station Family Radio. Reacting to the statement, Kenya’s own Christian media organisation Family Media put out an advertisement in the local dailies distancing themselves from Family Radio.

The advertisement said: “We expect the Lord Jesus to return soon, but even He does not know when, only God the Father knows. So we keep on trusting Him.”

“Wish to inform our viewers, listeners, partners and well wishers that we are not in any way or form affiliated to the US evangelical Christian broadcaster Harold Camping or family radio.com,” read the statement from Family Media.

As believers such as Edward Simiyu in Bungoma sold all their property in preparation for the afterlife, the more enterprising saw a business opportunity.

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