Saving Africa’s Witch Children

May 23, 2010 | By | 6 Replies More

I am often asked, “Why do you fight against religion?” Today my answer would be best expressed by this article from the New York Times.

A new documentary called “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” will be airing Wednesday May 26th on HBO2.

The documentary follows Gary Foxcroft…

…founder of the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, as he travels the rural state of Akwa Ibom, rescuing children abused during horrific “exorcisms” — splashed with acid, buried alive, dipped in fire — or abandoned roadside, cast out of their villages because some itinerant preacher called them possessed.

One of the main subjects of the documentary is Helen Ukpabio.

At home in Nigeria, the Pentecostal preacher Helen Ukpabio draws thousands to her revival meetings. Last August, when she had herself consecrated Christendom’s first “lady apostle,” Nigerian politicians and Nollywood actors attended the ceremony. Her books and DVDs, which explain how Satan possesses children, are widely known.

So well-known, in fact, that Ms. Ukpabio’s critics say her teachings have contributed to the torture or abandonment of thousands of Nigerian children — including infants and toddlers — suspected of being witches and warlocks.

If ever there was a reason to continue to strive to undermine the authority of religion, this is it.


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Category: children, Culture, Fraud, ignorance, Religion

About the Author ()

Mike Pulcinella is a documentary filmmaker.

Comments (6)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    It is not the authority of religion which is being abused in Nigeria (nor in Catholicism) but, its authenticity.

    Where is the true message of Christ in the cruelty which some have done to children? I don't find any such in the hearts and minds of those which abuse children! I pray the tormentors beg for their victims' and God's forgiveness before their actions destroy people's openess to the Word.

  2. Yes, Tim. I stand corrected. Poor choice of word. Authenticity is better in this case.

    So, where is the outrage from the Christian community? I may be missing it, but do good Christians denounce this kind of thing? IF not, they should. Openly and loudly!

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    We Catholics are outraged.

    We refuse to financially support the portions of the structure which allow abuse to exist and continue.

    We direct our personal contributions to the collective so as to increase pressure upon the authority to bring the authenticity of the Word back into our faith.

    We call for the structure to recognize its failures, to correct them, prevent them in the future and most of all to openly beg for forgiveness from the innocents harmed by its frail human servants who most of all deserve our love and support.

    We support the civil society putting the criminals away.

    If it takes every dime, asset, building, piece of property and all the physical beauties of the Church to approach making these innocents whole, the price would be small.

    I have heard it said that if you want peace, work for justice. I see justice as having an element of a taking away from one to attempt to make another more nearly whole. In some contexts that may make sense but, in an absolute sense there is an element of dimunition of one or a collective which may act to preserve some slight so as to frustrate complete justice.

    I think that if we want justice, we must beg for forgiveness and seek the grace of being forgiven. For justice to be complete, it must be whole, with nothing missing. I don't know what it would take to have forgiveness from all others which I may have harmed but, it is what I am committed to seeking. Perhaps then, I may be granted the grace of their forgiveness and we will be whole together.

    In living a life so as to not harm others, loving them as we love ourselves, and loving God wth all our hearts, souls and beings we become the Word and are truly children of God.

  4. Ben says:

    The documentary successfully shows how easily religion fosters brutality — that religion enables and may even be a catalyst for these types monstrosities.

    Believers, while it's completely obvious to you that these witch doctors were not acting according to Your god's wishes, you have difficulty seeing any parallels to your own fancy beliefs.

    Do you ever question why Your god enables this type of thing to happen on his Watch?

    Can Your god actually control or influence ANYTHING on Earth?

    Then why are you worshiping a "Vengeful Man in the Sky" who can't do anything?

  5. Tim Hogan says:

    God gave us free will, to choose between good and evil. Some others are too ill to know the difference. Others snark whilst they take no action to see the end to harms.

  6. Mike Baker says:

    It matters not who shackles us with the chains of oppression or injustice, whether they be tyrants or religious zealots. And I don't presume to know "who" gave us the freedom to choose but I believe humanity has always chosen to shake that which restricts and disempowers them, individually or collectively. One needs not be bound by the constraints of any religion to be able to acutely recognize immoral acts. That many of these acts are perpetrated by many of the worlds religions is testimony to the failure of religion as a teacher of morality.

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