Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Burning Times, Yet Again

The Wild Hunt recently had a serious post concerning the number of people -- often children -- being murdered and abused as "witches", often in places that sound far away from us such as Africa or India. I linked to the blog and urged American Pagans to do magic this Yule to put a stop to this abuse. As the Wild Hunt's article made clear, this is not "just" a problem oversees.

A new article in the LATimes indicates that the spread of xianity throughout Africa, including churches linked with American churches, is a large part of the problem.

The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria's 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.

. . .

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."

The Mount Zion Lighthouse — also named by three other families as the accuser of their children — is part of the powerful Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. The Fellowship's president, Ayo Oritsejafor, said the Fellowship was the fastest-growing religious group in Nigeria, with more than 30 million members.

"We have grown so much in the past few years we cannot keep an eye on everybody," he explained.

. . .

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."

That's what Margaret Eyekang did when her 8-year-old daughter Abigail was accused by a "prophet" from the Apostolic Church, because the girl liked to sleep outside on hot nights — interpreted as meaning she might be flying off to join a coven. A series of exorcisms cost Eyekang eight months' wages, or US$270. The payments bankrupted her.

Neighbors also attacked her daughter.

"They beat her with sticks and asked me why I was bringing them a witch child," she said. A relative offered Eyekang floor space but Abigail was not welcome and had to sleep in the streets.

Members of two other families said pastors from the Apostolic Church had accused their children of witchcraft, but asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

The Nigeria Apostolic Church refused repeated requests made by phone, e-mail and in person for comment.

. . .

There's a scar above Jane's shy smile: her mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and repeated exorcisms costing a total of $60 didn't cure her of witchcraft. Mary, 15, is just beginning to think about boys and how they will look at the scar tissue on her face caused when her mother doused her in caustic soda. Twelve-year-old Rachel dreamed of being a banker but instead was chained up by her pastor, starved and beaten with sticks repeatedly; her uncle paid him $60 for the exorcism.

Israel's cousin tried to bury him alive, Nwaekwa's father drove a nail through her head, and sweet-tempered Jerry — all knees, elbows and toothy grin — was beaten by his pastor, starved, made to eat cement and then set on fire by his father as his pastor's wife cheered it on.

Hey, xians! Nice religion you got there. Maybe the pope can give another speech on the evils of Paganism or some American tv pastor can blame Wiccans for terrorist attacks or hurricane damage.

Picture found here.


Teacats said...

And -- at this time of the year -- churches are concerned about children and folk who decorate their houses or trick-or-treat. Sheesh. They spread fear here about sin and witchcraft but would do better to look after the newest proponents of their so-called merciful god.

Wonder if they'll start missions for this?

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Makarios said...

And, of course, Sara Palin, the GOP's Great White [sic] Hope for 2012, is into this sort of thing right up to her nose.