Thursday, January 14, 2010

Human Sacrifice: Back Again

One of the advantages of growing up in Massachusetts was the realisation that battles of history had been fought there. An early lesson in elementary school was that of the Puritans fleeing to Massachusetts for religious freedom who then founded a theocracy. Next door to Massachusetts, Roger Williams established religious freedom as we know it. All of the faith communities who established themselves in the Western Hemisphere adhered to basic moral laws. Even if some regarded the others as dangerous heretics, civility and courtesy became the general norm.

Uganda is among a number of countries that now have a growing problem with human sacrifice. The BBC is among a number of news outlets that have reported on this growing problem as old beliefs thrive in modern times. They report as follows.

"One witch-doctor led us to his secret shrine and said he had clients who regularly captured children and brought their blood and body parts to be consumed by spirits.

Meanwhile, a former witch-doctor who now campaigns to end child sacrifice confessed for the first time to having murdered about 70 people, including his own son.

The Ugandan government told us that human sacrifice is on the increase, and according to the head of the country's Anti-Human Sacrifice Taskforce the crime is directly linked to rising levels of development and prosperity, and an increasing belief that witchcraft can help people get rich quickly.

In the course of our investigation we witnessed the ritual torching of the shrine of a particularly active witch-doctor in northern Uganda by anti-sacrifice campaigners.

The witch-doctor allowed ceremonial items including conch shells and animal skins to be burned in his sacred grove after agreeing to give up sacrifice.

He told us that clients had come to him in search of wealth."

They capture other people's children. They bring the heart and the blood directly here to take to the spirits… They bring them in small tins and they place these objects under the tree from which the voices of the spirits are coming," he said."

To combat this problem, the Ugandan government has actually established an " Anti Human Sacrifice Task Force. According to the BBC news clip that accompanied the article, it mostly involves getting former witch doctors to persuade currently practicing ones to give up their practices, accept Jesus and to burn down their shrines. How someone who has killed seventy children, including his own son can just burn down his old shrine and walk away is not explained. How many have reverted to their old ways?

The practices of the Ugandan witch doctors resemble some of the practices that were condemned in the Hebrew Scriptures. In biblical times, war was waged against people who sacrificed their children.

It has been over three centuries since Roger Williams opened a haven of religious freedom in Rhode Island where people with vastly disparate theologies could live together. But the Anti Human Sacrifice Task Force has driven home in a grim manner the fact that not all religions are equal. A "priest" who offers the organs of a kidnapped and murdered child to his "spirits" deserves to be killed. People who practice that faith deserve to be wiped out. It should be unthinkable to kill children for good luck. I seriously doubt that Roger Williams would have been blase about human sacrifice.

Don't think that these sick practices will stay in developing countries. Mayombe and other forms of worship of evil spirits have made their way into the United States. In one case, a ritual involved breathing from the last breaths of a person who was dying.

Then there is 'idolatry lite" in which a community will murder a woman for wearing western clothing or renouncing Islam. People like that end up getting drunk on the power they lord over others and expanding their list of capital offenses. Honor killings, forced marriages of nine year olds in Britain and murdering journalists (Theo Van Gogh) are all transgressions of our Western values that we have stopped fighting.

Some religions are better than others. Some people don't deserve freedom of religion. Those are the facts. It's so fashionable to criticise ancient Israelites for wiping out people who did abominations. When the ancient Israelites had an "Anti Human Sacrifice Task Force", they didn't mess around. They had cojones. Freedom of religion is for people who don't sacrifice each other.

If someone thinks human sacrifice is so cool, let them dangle from a rope and see how it feels before they try it on someone else. We pride ourselves in how modern and progressive we are, but we really haven't come that far at all. And it's time to admit it. Sphere: Related Content

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