Hunting Witches in Houston
Helen Ukpabio is a Nigerian Christian witch-hunter with a “gift” for being able to identify children who are demonically possessed. One sign of satanic influence, for example, is a child under 2 who wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. (Excuse me, but what child under 2 doesn’t wake up screaming some time?) Thousands of people have fallen under Ukpabio’s lunatic spell. The children she identifies as witches are abandoned, ostracized, tortured and even killed. You can read more about her exploits in this article from The Times:
The witch-hunter’s story came to my attention because she will soon be visiting Houston to hunt-out demon possessed children among the Nigerian community here.
It would be easy to dismiss Ukpabio’s form of religion is an extremist anomaly and not truly representative of religion’s essence. But let me ask you this: How are the Nigerian witch-hunter’s tactics any different from all the other ways that Christians (and other religionists) demonize and ostracize the feared “Other?” Religious parents in this country frequently ostracize and disown their own children when they come out of the closet as gay. I personally know people who have been ostracized and abandoned by their families when they declared that they were atheists or agnostics. Roman Catholic clergy excommunicate politicians who support abortion rights. It seems that the need to find scapegoats to kick out of the tribe is an intrinsic component of religious experience. The distinction between Ukpabio’s witch hunting and these other, less violent exorcisms is a difference only in degree not a difference in kind. The underlying thought processes are identical.
This demonstrates a fundamental threat that religion poses to society: Irrational thought eventually leads to irrational behavior. And somebody always gets hurt.