Children in the Hands of an Angry God

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”–Exodus 22:18 (for a long and interesting story about how “witch” here should be “poisoner,” check here).

MSNBC reported in October:

EKET, Nigeria – The 9-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.

His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.

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.”

Renegade branches, huh? How convenient that Christians can get away with pulling out the No True Scotsman fallacy every time and get away with it. Christ is the Prince of Peace, notwithstanding his saying, “I bring not peace, but a sword,” whereas Islam gets stuck trying to explain that no, actually, Islam specifically forbids that kind of behavior, but nobody listens.

For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Good luck with that excuse, Mr Dawes. Nobody ever buys that female genital mutilation, for example, is a regional tradition and has nothing to do with Islam, so it’s only fair that nobody believe that Christianity itself isn’t the cause of killing and mutilating young children.

“When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats,” he said. “It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change … and children are defenseless.”

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.

Nigeria is one of the heartlands of abuse, but hardly the only one: the United Nations Children’s Fund says tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa.

Church signs sprout around every twist of the road snaking through the jungle between Uyo, the capital of the southern Akwa Ibom state where Nwanaokwo lay, and Eket, home to many more rejected “witch children.” Churches outnumber schools, clinics and banks put together. Many promise to solve parishioner’s material worries as well as spiritual ones — eight out of ten Nigerians struggle by on less than $2 a day.

“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.

I hope this doesn’t catch on in the United States.

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 love this article because it’s not afraid to proclaim that Christians, evangelicals specifically, are killing and torturing and maiming children. The word “pastor” appears 19 times.

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On a completely different note, I recommend reading this article by Glenn Greenwald in Salon: The Joy of Airstrikes and Anonymity.

Excerpt:

Yet over and over and over, it turns out that these anonymous government assertions — trumpeted by our mindless media — are completely false. The Big Bad Guy allegedly killed in the strike ends up nowhere near the bombs and missiles. Sometimes, the very same Big Bad Guy can be used to justify different strikes over the course of many years (we know we said we killed him four times before, but this time we’re pretty sure we got him), or he can turn up alive when it’s time to re-trumpet the Al Qaeda threat (we said before we killed him in that devastating airstrike, but actually he’s alive and more dangerous than ever!!). Just like the “we killed 30 extremists” claim or the “we got Al Qaeda’s Number 3” boast, this is propaganda in its purest form, disseminated jointly by the U.S. Government and American media, and it happens over and over, compelling a rational person to conclude that it’s clearly intentional by both parties.

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Let me also a link to this post over at Gawker: US Economy Crippled by Churches.

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4 Comments

Filed under outrages

4 responses to “Children in the Hands of an Angry God

  1. lwdewhirst

    please see, “t s eliot Speaks to Abdulla Mudallah…”
    http://lwdewhirst.wordpress.com

  2. Reader

    Can’t fault you on your contempt for Christians. Your aim is too narrow: all religions are contemptible frauds on their adherents as well as their victims. It’s all made up. It’s all fake. And, ultimately, it all hurts people, cultures and societies terribly. The world would be a better place without the presence of ALL religions. There is no God. There is only life. If religions devoted themselves without exception to making the best lives for everyone, regardless of their beliefs, I might feel otherwise. But religion is a creation of people, and people are … well, as the late George Carlin said, “people are just fuckin’ GOOFY.” Cast off your superstitions, stop pretending that there’s a big magic man in the sky who rules our lives and live the life you’re lucky to have. Christian, Jew and Muslim? All foolish victims of lies.

  3. Thanks for commenting. Reader, I don’t actually have contempt for Christians, although I’m sure it sounds like it in this post.
    I just like to rail against the injustice in how Islam is portrayed in our media compared to how Christianity is portrayed.

  4. Raphael

    Note that your witch vs. poisoner link makes two claims, one of which is very obviously wrong. The word used in Exodus 22:18 is not “chasaph;” it is “michashaifah,” the feminine active participle. As such, translating it in the feminine is a simple matter of fidelity to the text, and not a Lutheran conspiracy. As to whether (female) poisoner would be a better translation than witch, I’d need to do more research, but I’d be very leery about taking their word for it.

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