Witchcraft and Christians

I recently came across an announcement from the IHEU (International Humanist and Ethical Union) of an “International Day of Action Against Witchcraft Accusations.” If you happen to be in Kenya July 22-24, it might of interest.

The announcement said almost nothing about the consequences of such accusations, but witchcraft is illegal in many African states and subject to serious penalties. I suspect extra-legal punishments also take place.

The announcement comes from an atheist organization. While you might think Christians would protest such a violation of freedom of religion, or at least teach that witchcraft is just a pagan superstition, that is not the case. The Catholic Church, in particular, is totally silent.

Africa is one of very few regions where the Catholic Church is growing. Last I heard, witchcraft played an important role in this growth. Fear of witchcraft is rampant in Africa, and Church evangelists preach that Jesus protects his flock from witchcraft. Jesus, they say, is the most powerful witch doctor of them all. Fear of witchcraft is one of the Church’s greatest allies, and they do not wish to eliminate it. (For good measure, their evangelists also throw in a variant of the prosperity gospel, promising that Jesus looks after His flock financially as well.)

In short, the universal Roman Catholic Church, in pursuit of market share, preaches doctrines which it normally considers to be heresy. It modifies its practices as well. Thus while the Church maintains (with a straight face) that priests must be celibate, and asserts that permitting priests to marry would be catastrophic, they look the other way when it comes to African clergy. Nearly all African priests live openly with women, and often have children. This is well known, but no one says anything for fear of offending.

I suspect that the universal Church also bends its rules in other regions where it is pursuing growth, such as in China. I suspect they preach some variant of the gospel of prosperity, and perhaps other heresies as well. I would appreciate hearing about their practices in China.