Tuesday, August 14, 2012

UK Announces Religious Child Abuse Action Plan

The United Kingdom recently announced an effort to combat religiously-based child abuse. While the plan is mostly couched in neutral language, it's being implemented in response to various high-profile cases of children and others being tortured and/or killed in the course of "exorcisms". One of the "key messages" in the program states:
The number of cases of child abuse linked to faith or belief in spirits, possession and witchcraft is believed to be small, but where it occurs it causes much distress and suffering to the child. It is likely that a proportion of this type of abuse remains unreported.
The Wild Hunt blog has a lot of information on the whole subject. Particularly this, though.

There's a lot going on here. None of it good.

Much of the problem (and it is a horrific, abhorrent, problem) is that Pentecostal church members in Africa are bringing their beliefs about witchcraft with them when they emigrate. Back in their homeland, one of the very successful strategies they've employed to further their own evangelistic endeavors is to use the indigenous animistic belief as a Satanic enemy. By having such an external enemy, they're able to create an atmosphere of fear very conducive to their own growth.

Whatever the reason, one thing is clear. Freedom of religion does not, ever, under any circumstances, justify the abuse, torture (physical or emotional), or discrimination against anyone, especially children. Period.

I don't think we're seeing native British Pentecostals engaging in this. I don't even think that they're encouraging it; it seems to be something the immigrants are bringing with them.

That said, it goes without saying that this sort of thing must be squashed, instantly and forcefully, so that no one even THINKS of acting on these sorts of beliefs. Eradicating it in the homeland is the best, most long-term solution, but the shoots of this belief must be destroyed wherever they sprout.

One wonders why they don't apply these same beliefs to British witches who are proud of the title and are able to use it legally and openly. Do they make a distinction between the native witches and the British version? Do they fear to do so because discovery would be easier (and more catastrophic in terms of publicity)? I have no idea, but it would be interesting to learn the answer.

In the meantime, those responsible should be punished in the most degrading and public way imaginable, and then shipped back to their home country ignominiously. 

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