The AP has an appalling article about children in Nigeria being killed for being witches. Welcome to the thirteenth century, folks. I recommend that you think whether you want to follow that link, because if you have an ounce of compassion, you’ll be boiling mad at the monsters responsible.
And hey, guess what: it’s not just primitive tribal superstition that’s to blame: the rebranded, socially acceptable face of primitive superstition has its fingerprints all over this infanticidal fuckwaddism:
Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
There’s also money involved. Not in the sense of people being paid to kill children. It’s worse: children are being killed as a side effect of someone else trying to make a buck:
“Where little shots become big shots in a short time,” promises the Winner’s Chapel down the road.
“Pray your way to riches,” advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.
It’s hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft.
“Even churches who didn’t use to ‘find’ child witches are being forced into it by the competition,” said Itauma. “They are seen as spiritually powerful because they can detect witchcraft and the parents may even pay them money for an exorcism.”
This next quote I can only hope is an example of liberal media bias, the AP trying to make religion look bad:
The Nigerian church is a branch of a Californian church by the same name. But the California church says it lost touch with its Nigerian offshoots several years ago.
“I had no idea,” said church elder Carrie King by phone from Tracy, Calif. “I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”
Because if that’s an honest summary of King’s position, then that means either a) she’s a wimpy superstitious moron who believes in witchcraft, but doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it, or b) she’s a stupid superstitious moron who doesn’t have a problem with people continuing to believe in magic an witchcraft because presumably they won’t do anything about it.
Even the guy trying to do something about the problem comes across as irresponsible:
But Foxcroft, the head of Stepping Stones, said if the organization was able to collect membership fees, it could also police its members better. He had already written to the organization twice to alert it to the abuse, he said. He suggested the fellowship ask members to sign forms denouncing abuse or hold meetings to educate pastors about the new child rights law in the state of Akwa Ibom, which makes it illegal to denounce children as witches. Similar laws and education were needed in other states, he said.
It’s not enough to just tell people that it’s not okay to kill witches. You need to explain that there’s no such thing as witchcraft or magic, period. No witchcraft, no witches. No witches, no need to pour acid down children’s throats or set them on fire. Or would that cramp the missionaries’ job of telling Africans about their undead Jewish zombie?
Or maybe it’s just the fact that local religious leaders are just as irresponsibly superstitious as their flock:
“Witchcraft is real,” Ukpabio insisted, before denouncing the physical abuse of children. Ukpabio says she performs non-abusive exorcisms for free and was not aware of or responsible for any misinterpretation of her materials.
“I don’t know about that,” she declared.
However, she then acknowledged that she had seen a pastor from the Apostolic Church break a girl’s jaw during an exorcism.
I can’t express how upset I am about this. It’s bad enough that this is pure medieval tripe, but that it’s church leaders who are both instigating and perpetuating this abomination.
Instead of sending Bibles to Africa, maybe these churches should be sending Monty Python DVDs. At least then they’d learn how to see whether someone is a witch, and maybe not kill any more children who weigh more than a duck.
“I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”
This reminds me of the exchange between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan about “moderate” vs “fundamentalist” faith. Sullivan pointed out how great moderate religion is because they’ve discarded all the really crazy stuff as being clearly unreasonable. Harris countered by saying that they’ve made “faith” better by having less of it. I think that this is one of those cases. The people around here may “believe” in witchcraft, but they don’t really believe in it. If it comes down to drowning somebody over it, common sense takes over.
What you won’t hear those people say is that they have less faith than the people who are willing to go all the way, but that’s the reality of it. If faith really is a good thing, the notion that you can’t have too much of a good thing clearly doesn’t hold true.
Yeah, I think you’re making the same point as Harris did when he pointed out that the simplest explanation for 9/11 was that the hijackers actually believed what they claimed to believe. That’s a simple point, but it was hard for me to accept.
Presumably something similar is going on in these church leaders’ heads: yes, you’re supposed to believe the Bible; yes, it says to kill witches; so presumably there’s such a thing as witches; but presumably you’re supposed to find some abstract, fuzzy interpretation of “witch”, and not actually go out and kill people.
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