Shit My Bible Says: By the Rivers of Babylon

Psalm 137:

1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
   when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
   we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
   our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
   they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
   while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
   may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
   if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
   my highest joy.

7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
   on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
   “tear it down to its foundations!”

Huh. Actually, that’s quite beautiful. A song of grief and loss, and trying to carry on in desperate circumstances.

Some of you may be old enough to remember Boney M’s version. Admit it, you started singing along with the text, above:

(And for those who aren’t old enough to remember: um, there once was this thing called disco and, er, we’re not terribly proud of that.)

Update: Hold on. Alert reader me has just pointed out that I left off a bit off at the end:

8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
   happy is the one who repays you
   according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
   and dashes them against the rocks.

Huh. I wonder why this part never made it into the Boney M song.

Superstition Kills

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.