6 December 2016
Belief in witchcraft by christians is still widespread in many parts of the world from Africa to Papau New Guinea. The belief is derived from the same arguments from the bible that the Catholics used to burn witches during the Dark Ages.
Accusations of witchcraft usually arise when people are looking to explain an unpleasant event such as a serious illness, a damaging accident, or even a death. There is an overwhelming desire to identify and remove the cause so the person or community can heal.
A person accused of being a witch, invariably starts out denying the charge, or sometimes, in an attempt to exonerate themselves, accuses someone else. There is no presumption of innocence, and any claims of innocence from the accused, are met with an escalation in torture. After hours of torture ranging from beatings to being burned, the accused confesses, whether in the vain hope that they will be left alone after the confession or that their suffering will end sooner, no-one knows, because the ordeal so often ends in death.
Regardless of the outcome, the confession is met with jubilation because the cause of the problem has been identified and can now be eliminated. In addition, the result is seen as validation of the cruel process which successfully identified and removed the source of evil.
In Kenya in 2013, there were confirmed reports of suspected witches being burned alive by their local christian communities with the support of friends and families. Once friends and families are convinced the person is a witch, they no longer see them as a fellow human being, let alone a family member or friend.
Children are as likely as any other member of society, to be accused of witchcraft in Africa: in Nigeria, children as young as 2 and 3 years old have been accused. Once the accusation has been levelled against a child, a confession is extracted in as cruel and harsh a manner as with an adult, where cutting, beating, and burning are the norm.
If the child is not killed, they are are forced to flee their homes to areas that they do not know in big cities where they are easy prey. Nonetheless, having survived, they are the lucky ones, even though if they make it to adulthood, they are very likely to be severely traumatised.
In Kinshasa, capital of the DR Congo, it is estimated that at any one time, there are over 20,000 street children who are fending for themselves beause they were accused of witchcraft. In the Central African Republic, where it is illegal to be a witch, prisons are full of adults and children accused of witchcraft.
The witch 'trials' and burning are not even carried out in secret in most places. In Papua New Guinea, photos emerged of a woman tortured to confess and then set alight while a policeman watched. No-one was prosecuted.
Some christians vehemently denounce what these people do in the name of christianity. However, the Bible talks about witches as real, evil, and worthy of death providing them with a basis for their beliefs. The witch killers are frequently well versed in the Christian bible, and use it effectively to justify their actions.
I describe myself as a secular atheist hence the name of the site. As an atheist, I am active in my opposition to religious privilege and intolerance especially when it comes to religion trying to enforce its values on all society such as the denial of equal rights for the LGBQT community and placing limits on women's reproductive rights.
I sometimes describe myself as a secular humanist because humanism matches my beliefs most closely. As a humanist, I am totally committed to human rights as defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I am proud to have been a member of the British Humanist Society for many years now.
Lastly, I am a parent, a husband, a teacher, a mentor, a friend, and a Bridge enthusiast (although not very good at it). I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas, and this site is one of my outlets to this end.
Thank you for visiting, and thank you for reading.
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