The Observer reports on what amounts to a religious protection racket in Nigeria:
But an exploitative situation has now grown into something much more sinister as preachers are turning their attentions to children – naming them as witches. In a maddened state of terror, parents and whole villages turn on the child. They are burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush.
Some parents scrape together sums needed to pay for a deliverance – sometimes as much as three or four months’ salary for the average working man – although the pastor will explain that the witch might return and a second deliverance will be needed. Even if the parent wants to keep the child, their neighbours may attack it in the street.
This is not just a few cases. This is becoming commonplace. In Esit Eket, up a nameless, puddled-and-potholed path is a concrete shack stuffed to its fetid rafters with roughly made bunk beds. Here, three to a bed like battery chickens, sleep victims of the besuited Christian pastors and their hours-long, late-night services. Ostracised and abandoned, these are the children a whole community believes fervently are witches.
Even by the standards of organised religion, this is disgusting. It’s time that all decent people stopped respecting “faith” — their word for irrational nonsense — communities, and recognised religion for what it is. At best religion is silly and misguided harmless nonsense, and at worst it is the most evil set of ideas humans have ever produced, with the proven ability to incite millions of killings.
Religion should never be respected; at best it should be grudgingly tolerated.
(via Randy McDonald)