Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Persecution of Supposed Witches on the Rise

The following stories have popped up in the last few days:

Nigerian children accused of Witches cast out of their homes, tortured, even killed by church leadership, and their own parents:

see this report from yesterday:
SOS Children's Village
and this one from 3 days ago:
CBS News

The above stories are from Nigeria alone, but this is happening in much of the "third world." Mike Davis' book Planet of Slums outlines this problem in Kinshasa, Congo as well. You should read this book. See link to it in the column to the left.

Indian Muslim widows beaten after being accused of being Witches:
video footage here

Is there hope for delivering these abused women and children from the evil created by superstition and fear-mongering? I hope so, but I am convinced that this superstition has been exported by many US churches, and expanded to unbelievable lengths by poverty, greed, and ignorance. Heaven help us.

For previous blog posts on this issue see here and here.


Kieran Conroy said...

Know this is a little out of date, Phil- but hope you'll see it...

I've been doing a little side-research on pre-Christian survivals across Europe, particularly Celtic mid-summer bonfires, but ended up doing some cross-national skimming on wikipedia.

It is interesting that there is a common thread, straight across Europe where pre-Christian bonfires includes some common elements of celebrating fertility, but also driving off evil. In some this literally includes burning a witch (Denmark for example), most its a more general belief that the size of the fire protects against evil spirits of all sorts for the coming year.

I'm just intrigued, because I have a strong sense that what we have here is parallel to what you observe in Africa- ancient traditions of witchcraft blending, or being manipulated by modern church leaders. Its troubling, but shows an interesting relationship between Christian and pre-Christian belief on two continents, a fascinating idea.

Could see some interesting work, looking at the fact some of these troubling features may not have just been the "Christians persecuting the pagans," but the darker elements of both traditions being misused or amplified for various ends.

The irony is that contemporary mixed solistice traditions across Europe bear the memory of both- in many nations in Eastern or Northern Europe traditional healers and women gather herbs on this most holy day of the ancient calenders. But there is also fears, fears which seem to have been historically merged into witch-burnings in places like Denmark that continue symbolically today over ancient "pagan" fires in effigy.

In the end, its my hunch that we can't blame the "Christian" or "pagan" elements of these cultures completely-- but rather the frightening propensity of human nature to allow fear to justify terrible things, in all religions, in the right set of circumstances.

Here's the article I was looking at, though I'm working from some books on Celtic (primarily Gaelic-speaking Irish and Scottish sites where these rites continued as much as a generation or two regularly) Easter and Solstice traditions, very intriguing stuff:

TitusL said...

Great post. I thought you might like my machinima animation about The Wise Woman, The Witch
Bright Blessings ~