It is so frustrating to be on the business end of faith when it's used as a weapon. There's little to do to defend yourself when people will act even against their conscience, and there's less to do when they feel like they're being loving and righteous when hurting another person. I thought the days of major, world-ruining damage done in this way were somewhat behind us, but I came across this story and I am still in shock:
'Child-witches' of Nigeria seek refuge
Christian religious leaders in Nigeria have taken to "curing" demonically possessed children, "witches" as young as newborns. Words fail me. Here's a bit from the article:
During the "deliverance" ceremonies, the children are shaken violently, dragged around the room and have potions poured into their eyes. The children look terrified. The parents look on, praying that the child will be cleansed. If the ritual fails, they know their children will have to be sent away, or killed. Many are held in churches, often on chains, and deprived of food until they "confess" to being a witch.And worse than that occurs, but the point is there. The religious leaders perpetrating this crime (a word that is grossly inadequate here) are likely out for money, but I can't care one bit if they believe the supernatural worldview they're promoting or not; clearly they break my rules of engagement with regards to religious tolerance. But the parents, who are certainly acting against their conscience for their faith, are as much to blame and their betrayal of morality and familial love is even more striking.
Theses are the horrors of magical thinking, though it often starts out so innocently. This is the hedonism and the devil of my worldview, of agnosticism at work. Though I consider myself fairly liberal and broad in my support of religious freedoms, in this case, religious freedom be damned; Our government should be strongly pressuring the Nigerians for a crackdown.
What gets to me is that I like to think humans are far removed from such behavior. It was something we did in Salem, or Spain years and years ago. But I see stories like this and have to admit that that is who we are, today. It is what we are all capable of doing if we don't keep constant restraint, discipline, and deference to science in our beliefs.
Sorry for the rant but this story got to me. Gays here are often called satanically guided or inspired or whatever, but at least such claims are seen as ridiculous enough that we don't need to address them on protest signs as these children do. We have it great in comparison. I hope, if you have some extra charitable dollars to spend, you might send them their way (or talk your church into getting involved. I'm all for faith when it does good.).
You can donate to the center in Nigeria taking in these children here; unfortunately, though, they don't seem to be organized or vetted like a regular charity. Here may be a better option.