Jane’s mother tried to saw off the top of her skull and Mary’s mother doused her in caustic acid after a Christian pastor denounced them as witches. Thousands of children in Africa are being brutally abused, tortured or killed after being labeled a “child witch” by pastors of local African churches. These local churches are often the branch or off-shoot of American or international franchises. The idea of witchcraft in Africa is not new, but this hateful new manifestation against children is partly due to the rapid growth of evangelical Christianity in Africa. The United Nations Children’s Fund says that tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa. In Nigeria alone, 15,000 children have been accused over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.
One of the many Nigerian churches that stands accused of denouncing children as witches is a branch of a Californian church. But the Mount Zion Lighthouse Church in California says it lost touch with its Nigerian offshoots several years ago. “I had no idea,” said church elder Carrie King by phone from Tracy, California “I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”
I have to wonder how many other churches in America are unaware that their support of these African ministries has serious and life-threatening consequences for thousands of children. Even worse, how many are aware and just don’t care? Do the multiple Episcopal congregations that have now aligned themselves with often virulent anti-gay African churches due to the consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, even care that their hatred and homophobia against gay people may also aide and abet in the torture and murder of thousands of innocent African children? (Jane & Mary Photo: Sunday Alamba, AP)