By Michelle Boorstein
There appears to be a dramatic development in Kenya related to a cult-like Virginia church we wrote about in 2008.
For more than three decades, Calvary Temple, a Pentecostal church in Sterling, has been a source of controversy. People have been devoting their lives, families and bankbooks to the message preached by founding pastor Star Scott, but hundreds have also left Calvary over the years, saying their families and relationships were destroyed by Scott and an intense culture where people are urged to divorce spouses and shun children who resist Scott’s teachings. People who resist the Calvary way are accused in sermons of hating God.
Now the same allegations are being leveled at Calvary’s mission churches in Kenya – but in a different cultural context.
Police in Eldoret, Kenya, have reportedly issued a warrant for the arrest of one of the Calvary pastors, a Virginia man named Ron Zarou, and civic leaders are calling for a probe of the Calvary branch. They say the church wasn’t properly registered, nor is its school and that its members are being forced to leave non-church-member spouses and to marry church members. They also allege the church is improperly taking church members’ financial assets.
You can also see upset family members at a news conference here, one mother claiming her daughter was married off without her permission.
This sounds very much like what dozens of former Calvary members described to me about the intense pressure and moral damning that goes on here in Sterling. I called the church for comment but got no call back. I hear from former members that Zarou was whisked out of Kenya and back to Loudoun County for his safety.
When I wrote the story in 2008, Scott said Calvary has 40 spinoff churches in Africa. The church’s Web site currently lists 18 pastors.