I have written about how Christian belief relates to the plight of "child witches" before in my "Why I engage in religious debates..." essay. But this recent news article is very disturbing and seriously deserves being read twice:
By David Harrison -- telegraph.co.uk
"The religious leaders offer help to the families whose children are named as witches, but at a price. The churches run exorcism, or "deliverance", evenings where the pastors attempt to drive out the evil spirits. Only they have the power to cleanse the child of evil spirits, they say. The exorcism costs the families up to a year's income."
"At his church in Ibaka, the Bishop pours a homemade substance called African mercury, a potion of pure alcohol and his own blood, into the eyes of a young boy lying on a table. "I want this poison destroyer to destroy the witch right now, in Jesus' name," he says.
He has recently refined his techniques for dealing with child witches. "I killed up to 110 people who were identified as being a witch," he says."
Oh good, the Bishop has killed 110 children who were witches.
Where did he get such an awesome idea?
I can think of one place...
Exodus 22:18 You shall not permit a witch to live.
Now, this is where sometimes a "but that's an Old Testament verse!" response comes in. All right, let's take Jesus' actions as reported in the Gospels for insight into dealing with reality. Let us consider how to deal with demon possession, witches, and other supernatural problems. According to the Gospels, there is hardly a more widespread and pervasive problem.
Is there anything that Jesus does more of in the Gospel accounts than cast out demons?
No. And just to give you a flavor, here is a partial list of demon-verses from just the Gospel of Matthew: (when I integrate these verses into a full essay, I'll link up each verse individually).
Matthew 4.24: So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them.
Matthew 8.16: That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick.
Matthew 8.28: When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way.
Matthew 9.32: After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him.
Matthew 12.22: Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see.
Matthew 15.22: Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, 'Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.'
Matthew 17.18: And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
One slight positive of publicizing stories like this is a followup story:
The 'Bishop' from the first story is arrested. Good. It's a start.
Perhaps Western Christians who visit this page do not consider it a good thing that witches are being killed and that children with demons are being cast off into society. Two points.
- Why would these Western Christians no longer worry about demon possession and witches? A closer reading of the New Testament? Surely not.
- Western Christians often feel the need to spread their superstition to all corners of the world through missionary work -- and perhaps their own ... tempered ... view of Christianity is less of a problem. But when you get an already highly superstitious place to adopt your version of superstition, they just may believe in your magic book even more fully than you do.