Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Could Be a Lot Worse

At times I like to think of how bad it could be or has been for gays or other groups, in order to make my family's current legal treatment in Utah feel smaller and conquerable in comparison.

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.


Guy said...

Oh, Scot, thanks so much for posting this. It hits close to home for me, though. I lived for a year in southeastern Nigeria, in neighboring Cross River state, as a volunteer health education worker with kids and their families, trying to overcome some of these horrible superstitions. Even among many of the more educated, "ju ju" (witchcraft) seemed to always be blamed for everything. My heart aches for these poor children. I wish we could adopt some, but a gay couple would likely never be allowed to adopt there, for fear of us being bad parents and mistreating the kids. Oh, the sad irony.

Scot said...

Guy, wow, that must have been an amazing experience. I'd love to hear more about it.

I hope you all give us and that other family ;-) a call when you're in town next. We'd love to have you all over, and chat while the kids go wild.

"Oh, the sad irony."

Errg, don't get me started. How many children are hurt for the "sake for the children"?

Guy said...

Thanks, Scot. We'd love to see you all then, if you're around. We're coming up for our "snow fix" Dec. 27-Jan.3. In the meantime, have a great, long holiday season, starting today!