COURAGEOUS Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe has just emailed me news of a planned anti-witchcraft crusade by a local pentecostal church slated for July 27.
The banner for the event, due to take place at the Cultural Centre in Calabar in Cross River State, has a startling resemblance to a 50s horror movie poster. It declares:
That witch must die!
In March, the same church organised a similar event in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state where witch belief is strong and witchcraft-related abuse is common and widespread, said Igwe.
The activities of churches and prayer houses have been linked to the problem of witch hunting in the region. But very little has been done by local authorities to call these religious nuts to order.
Once again I want to draw the attention of the authorities to the activities of this church and other churches in the region that are fuelling witch-hunting in the name of spreading the gospel. These religious entrepreneurs have found a market niche in witch beliefs and are busy exploiting it at the expense of the rights and dignity of our children and elderly persons.
They fuel witchcraft fears through their books, films and deliverance sessions, and spread the false gospel that people’s problems are caused by witches and wizards in their families and communities.
Igwe said that the authorities cannot continue looking the other way and ignoring:
The havoc being caused by these evangelical throwbacks.
He called on the the governments of Cross River and Akwa Ibom to act swiftly and bring to justice “all witch-hunting pastors and god men and women in these states. They should prohibit all church programmes that incite hatred and violence in the name of witchcraft”.
He said that the two states cannot afford to go back to the times when the streets were dotted with children abused and abandoned after being identified as witches and wizards. They should monitor the programmes of churches and pastors in the region and ensure that they are not propagating
The poisonous gospel of witch hunting or inciting hatred and violence in the name of witchcraft.
For instance the theme of this crusade is literally inciting violence, and could lead to an upsurge of witch persecution and killings in the region. The title Koboko Night implies torture and abuse of any alleged witch. This could cause some people to go home and start beating up their children or aging parents whom they suspect of witchcraft.
Adding ‘that witch must die’ makes it more horrifying. It clearly sanctions death and execution of any alleged witch. This alone can cause people to murder or commit atrocious acts against family or community members whom they believe are witches. This is particularly worrisome because the Bible, which Christians accept to be the holy book says in Exodus 22:18 ‘Suffer not a witch to live’. Obviously this biblical verse constitutes the evangelical basis of this crusade.
Igwe called on the authorities should to arrest and prosecute those behind it the crusade.
That will serve as a deterrent to other witch-believing churches and pastors. Witchcraft accusation is a crime under the law. Also inciting hatred and violence in the name of witchcraft is a criminal offence. So the law is very clear on this and should be employed by the authorities to bring these evangelical rascals to book.
Witch-hunting must stop. Witch-hunting churches and pastors must be stopped.
There is an excellent article here about Leo Igwe and his tireless campaign against
The ever-growing number of evangelists whose livelihood is dependent on the hysterical fear associated with witchcraft that exists in Nigeria’s fundamentalist, Christian south.