A new feature to highlight news items that make thinking people wonder what century we’re living in. Sure to depress the rational. Sorry.
(A tip of the hat to Ed Brayton and his excellent blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars. If you don’t read it, you really should.)
Remember way back when, when logic and rationality were bad words and the Church had all the power? Remember when they used that power for practical purposes, like burning
uppity women witches? Well, if you live in Africa, you better remember.
The potentially dangerous activities of a new local church in Cross River-Akwa Ibom states axis of the country should be of concern to all people of conscience in Nigeria and beyond. This church, which habitually starts the themes of its crusade with “My Father! My Father!!…”appears to be on a fast track to causing a new wave of witchcraft related abuse, torture and killings in the region.
This church is owned and led by a boyish upstart pastor who addresses himself as ‘God’s Prophet’ and as ‘Prophet of signs and wonders’. It is not clear when and how he came about these titles, but like others in the business of penticostalism, these appellations have become the trade mark of this evangelical entrepreneur. From an apartment in Calabar, Cross River State, where it started, the church has grown so rich that it now organizes its meetings in some of the most expensive hotels in the region. But the issue is not whether this ‘My Father Church’ holds its events in cheap or expensive venues but what these programs are all about.
Recently, the prophetic ministry joined the vanguard of witch hunting churches that are fueling witchcraft related abuse in the region.
In what appears to be a clear and targeted attempt to undermine the progress which government and non-governmental agencies have made in the fight against witch hunting in Akwa Ibom, the church organized in March a crusade tagged ‘Uyo Festival of Fire’ at Ibom Hall in Uyo, the state capital.
The theme of the crusade was ‘My Father! My Father!! That Witch Must Die’.
Anyone who knows the Bible could easily notice a connection between the theme of the crusade and the biblical verse-Ex 22:18- which says ‘Suffer not a Witch to live’. What is particularly disturbing is that the church staged the event at a time the state government is frantically battling to address this tragic situation. The crusade was a literal declaration of war against alleged witches and an unequivocal endorsement of witch hunting in the state.
Get that? The state govenment is “frantically battling” the killing of witches. Why?
Belief in witchcraft is very strong in the region. Witchcraft accusation is very common and witch hunting often erupts in this part of the country. Belief in witchcraft has caused many people to attack, abuse, torture, or kill their children or parents or grandparents whom they blamed for their misfortune.
In 2008, the government of Akwa Ibom came under international pressure following a documentary on the problem which was broadcast worldwide. The government hastily passed into law a bill that criminalized child witch stigmatization and took some measures to address the problem. Some non-governmental organizations embarked on programs and projects to rescue victims and enlighten the people. In the past two years, significant progress has been made in persuading the local population from engaging in witchcraft related abuses.
So this rally is going to erase whatever progress has been made, ignite a witch hunting inferno, and quite possibly cost innocent people their lives. But hey, a business is a business, and this pastor is making bank, so what’s the death of a few innocents?
That was so depressing that I’m only posting the one item. Instead, let’s go to Sweden and get cheered up! I mean, even if there are religious crazies in Sweden, they’d probably just force you to go to a music festival and eat a semla, right?
From The Local:
The father and step-mother of a 14-year-old girl from western Sweden were charged on Friday with repeatedly beating and burning the girl because they “thought she was a witch”, according to the prosecutor.
Oh, come on! It’s Sweden.
“According to the girl’s version of events she has been subjected to being locked up, has had her feet tied together, assault through being burned with a red-hot knife in a torture-like manner and other violent rites and exorcisms,” prosecutor Daniel Larsson wrote in a statement.
Along with the parents, a pastor from a small religious community in Malmö has been charged.
What fucking century is this again?