Nigerian Witch-Hunter Tries To Silence Critics

Below is the just the first two parts of the British documentary “Saving Africa’s Witch Children”, which exposes the horrendous child abuse carried out in Africa under the pretense of exorcism, followed by today’s New York Times article relaying the denials and excuses offered by Helen Ukpabio, a dangerous promoter of these heinous practices:

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[Helen] 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. Her culpability is a central contention of “Saving Africa’s Witch Children,” a documentary that made its American debut Wednesday on HBO2.

Those disturbed by the needless immiseration of innocent children should beware. “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” 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.

Their fellow villagers have often seen DVDs of “End of the Wicked,” Ms. Ukpabio’s bloody 1999 movie purporting to show how the devil captures children’s souls. And some have read her book “Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft,” where she confidently writes that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.”

Ms. Ukpabio is emphatic that children can be possessed, and that with her God-given “powers of discernment,” she can spot such a child. Belief in possession is especially common among Pentecostals in Nigeria, where it reinforces native traditions that spirits are real and intervene in human affairs.

She said the children’s gruesome scars and wounds, shown in the documentary, are not real — or perhaps they are real, “but there are many ways children can get maimed.” And if the injuries are the result of witchcraft accusations against the children, she said, those accusations could not have been made by Pentecostal Christian preachers, but by charlatans.

And, consistent with a disturbing worldwide trend, she wants her religious rights to be cover her abusiveness and to trump other people’s freedom of speech:

In the lawsuit, Ms. Ukpabio alleges that the state law infringes on her freedom of religion. She seeks 2 billion naira (about $13 million) in damages, as well as “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents” from interfering with or otherwise denouncing her church’s “right to practice their religion and the Christian religious belief in the existence of God, Jesus Christ, Satan, sin, witchcraft, heaven and hellfire.”

In other words, in the name of religious freedom, Ms. Ukpabio seeks a gag order on anyone who disagrees with her.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • elaine

    This World anyway the humans on it, are going backwards, as nothing is done about these evil practices.
    What is religious freedom, just a saying allowing people to get any with anything they like.
    Can you imagine this being done in a posh neighbourhood of the USA, would religious freedom then be an excuse.

  • http://atheists-and-christians.blogspot.com/ Mike AKA MonolithTMA

    I liked it better when Nigerians were known more for their elaborate Nigerian Prince scams.


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