Thursday, June 03, 2010

Missionaries of Hate

The above video is well worth watching.

I tire of hearing how Christianity is "different" from Islam and that fundamentalist Christians aren't like fundamentalist Muslims. I disagree. They are very, very much alike, and I say that as someone who knows these people well. The tendency toward violence exists in both camps. The main difference is that fundamentalist Christianity is contrained by the culture that surrounds it. It is not as evil as it wants to be.

The question that must be asked is not about how Christian fundamentalists act today, in modern America, but: How would they act in a culture if they were the dominant force? Certainly the fundamentalists who have spoken about a "Christian America based on God's law" envision a society where millions of people would be susceptible to the death penalty.

This video, about the hate campaigns in Uganda, fueled by American fundamentalists, is an indication of how these radical Christians would act in America, if they had the opportunity. The lack of opportunity should not be construed as a lack of will.

Now that I've thoroughly offended the Right allow me to comment on issues that will offend the Left.

The situation in Uganda is clearly a bad one. It is made worse because so much of African culture is thoroughly dysfunctional. All cultures are not equal, no matter what the cultural relativists say. What saves America from going too far down the theocratic road is that our nation still has one foot firmly rooted in the Enligtenment. Admitted the other is in the Dark Ages and ruled by superstition and faith, but America is sufficiently enlightened to avoid the worst excesses of faith-driven politics.

Africa is another case completely. African culture doesn't have one foot in the Enlightenment, it is more like one toe—and the little one at that. In my years in Africa what I saw was the worst forms of superstitition. Young girls were raped because the sangomas (witch doctors) said that raping a virgin could cure AIDS. I watched a soccer match on television where a small cat ran on the field. The players pursued it and stamped it to death, claiming it must be a witch sent to curse them. Every year hundres, if not thousands, of individuals are burned to death becasue the locals believe they are witches placing curses on their neighbors.

The worst excesses of the witch hunts in Salem, or in Europe before that, are nothing in comparison to the witch hunts that take place every year, year-in and year-out, even now in the 21st century. Consider these cases:

Kenya, 2008: a mob of 300 men attacks and burns to death 11 people. "The gang moved from home to home through two villages, identifying their victims by using a list of names of suspected witches and wizards and the kind of spells they were believed to have cast..." They sometimes slit the throats of the victims first, or beat them to death with clubs. "Most of the victims were between 70 and 90 years old..."

Nigeria, 2009: Fundamentalist churches denounce hundreds of children as "witch children" which leads to "exorcism" by forcing acid down the throats of the children. Nwanaokwo Edet, was just 9 when the acid was forced down his throat. It spilled, buring away his face, and he died from the "treatment" inflicted by his church and his father. Over 200 such children were identified by 13 fundamentalist Christian churches as witches. In all of Nigeria it is estimated that 15,000 children have been accussed of being witches and over 1,000 were killed by the Christians sent to exorcise them.

• Burundi, 2009. Watch this report on how albinos throughout East Africa are being hunted down and slaughtered so that their body parts can be used to make "good luck" charms. Where I lived in Africa this was called "muti." Shops existed selling portions and charms made by local sangomas

South Africa, 2009: Ntombizanele Combo, 45, died when her home was set alight by witch hunters. Her six-year-old granddaughter, Sibulele Combo tried to escape but was forced back into the burning hut by the mob. Not far from the secne a 57-year-old man was hacked to death by the mob. Police say that the mob was hunting witches.

This sort of Dark-Ages thinking was rampant throughout Africa. The closest the West has to this sort of "magical" thinking is fundamentalist Christianity, so it is no wonder that this form of extremists religion is on the rise in Africa. What makes this even worse, is that many Africans see this sort of witch hunting being sanctioned by the West, as Christianity is associated with Western thinking. The Bible clearly says: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. It also commands the execution of male homosexuals—though not lesbians. The "Western" concept of Christainity is seen as endorsing the worst excesses of the African culture. People who have no problem executing small children in the name of Jesus, certainly won't be appalled at the idea of killing homosexuals.

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