This is a troubling story for many reasons (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/world/africa/15witches.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp). Moreover, it again shows the insanity often arising from professed religious beliefs. I also find it ironic having posted yesterday about "conservative" Episcopal congregations aligning themselves with fundamentalist elements of the Anglican Communion in Africa. I find it bizarre that allegedly intelligent and educated people in places like Northern Virginia are rushing to become the spiritual brethren of the backward, superstitious and benighted who believe in witches, cast out children, etc. I can only conclude that such is the ultimate result of religious fundamentalism run amok. In my view, having gay bishops would appear rather normal compared to this stuff. These story highlight show just how strange the "truth" of religion can become:
They gathered that afternoon in Domingos’s mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house’s rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father. “They were yelling, ‘Witch! Witch!’” Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. “There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time.”
Terrified, Domingos told them what they wanted to hear, but his relatives were not appeased. Ferraz Bulio, the neighborhood’s traditional leader, said seven or eight captors were dragging Domingos down a dirt path to the river, apparently to drown him, when he intervened. “They were slapping him and punching him,” he said. “This is the way people react toward someone accused of witchcraft. There are lots of such cases.” Mr. Bulio is right. In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned.
The Angolan city of Mbanza Congo, just 50 miles from the border with Congo, has blazed a trail. After a child accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children, the global charitable organization, rounded up 432 street children and reunited 380 of them with relatives, the witchcraft report stated. Eleven fundamentalist churches were shut down because of reports of child exploitation and abuse. Eight Congolese pastors were deported. Villages formed committees to monitor children’s rights. The authorities say the number of children who are abused or living on the streets dropped drastically.
Moises Samuel, director of the provincial office of the children’s institute, said he was concerned not only about traditional healers but also about a bevy of churches with soothsayers who claimed to exorcise evil spirits and drew crowds even on weekdays. Once a soothsayer or healer brands a child a witch, child welfare specialists say, even the police often back away.