In Kenyan churches, the Antichrist is a frequent sermon subject, one that often serves to feed controversial end-time conspiracy theories.
Those fears of the apocalyptic figure, a seven-headed beast that rises from the sea in the New Testament Book of Revelation, are colliding with a new government effort to assign Kenyans a personal identification number. Clerics are alleging the new ID number will brand their flocks with 666, the biblical mark of the beast.
“This is actually the journey towards the mark of the beast, but I think outside forces are driving the process,” said Daniel Mungai, a lay preacher with the Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa churches in Nairobi.
“We are in the end times,” Benjamin Mutungi, a Pentecostal church pastor, told Religion News Service. “They will keep upgrading this number until it becomes micro-chip that will be implanted on people’s hands or forehead. We do not need to worry for now, but when they start fixing it on the people’s foreheads that’s the time to rise up.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta registered disbelief as he launched the identification known as “Huduma (Service) Number” in Masii, a small town east of Nairobi, on April 2.
“I was shocked to hear that some of pastors are saying that this the devil’s number,” said Kenyatta. “Goodness! How does the devil come in, in a process of identification?” Kenyatta explained that the government needed the numbers to make it easier for citizens to receive services.
Kenyatta warned church leaders against misusing their privileged positions to mislead their congregations.