Hundreds of people sing "Silent Night" to the glow of candles at a Christmas Eve service at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco. The song, lit strictly by the candles, is a traditional highlight of the early evening service. (San Francisco Chronicle picture from Christmas 2008)
A Video for SafeHouse: "Transition to Atheism (Personal)" on YouTube 適合「心靈休息室」之短片：「轉到無神論」
In this video, the narrator uses the seven-stage model of psychological transition put forward by Sugarman in her book "Life-Span Development" to explore the emotional side of personal transition from Christian to Atheist. It is very useful for SafeHouse, a resting place and support group for people in transition of religious faith. The SafeHouse can watch this video and discuss.
這套 YouTube 短片以心理發展的七個階段模型理解由基督徒過渡到無神論者的情緒轉變。看來十分適合「心靈休息室」觀看及討論。（「心靈休息室」是一個為宗教信仰轉變者而設的互助小組。）
The world should be alerted about this unbelievably horrible reality. In Nigeria, thousands of children are believed, by evangelical Christians, to be demon-possessed "witches" and some of them are tortured to death (1). Rev Helen Ukpabio of the Liberty Gospel Church is an infamous witch hunter. She made films to educate people that child "witches" exist (2). Her church's supporters have invaded a child rights conference (3), during which a humanist anti-superstition educator Leo Igwere's belongings were stolen. Now, Ukpabio has filed a lawsuit in the Nigerian federal court against Igwere for "religious discrimination" (hearing on Dec 17) (4)! A superstition-spreader who most likely indirectly caused multiple child murders brings to court a humane worker who tried to stop those children from being murdered! What on earth can be more absurd!
This terrible thing forced me to reflect on religious faith, Christian faith in particular. Some Christians in Nigeria believed that certain children are demon-possessed witches, and tried to cast out demons to the point of murdering those children. Faith kills. Christians all over the world should reflect on the nature (and danger) of their own religious faith.
You might wonder how that bizarre thing in Nigeria can be related to the faith of Christians in the rest of the world. They are. At the heart of Christianity is a set of supernatural doctrines. A personal God created and is looking after this world. God hears and answers prayers. Bible being the Word of God. Original sin. Jesus is God. Virgin birth. Salvation by crucifixion. Resurrection. Second coming. Eternal life. Satan is real. Spiritual warfare between God and Satan. Satan can possess a human. And more.
If Christians believed these, it follows that a child can be possessed by Satan (demon). If a child is believed to be possessed, why not cast out the demon from the child? If the exorcism failed, why not "deliver" the poor child to "eternal life"? The line of thought is logical. More importantly, the concepts of "spiritual warfare" and demon possession are alive in Western Christians, most notably among charismatics and evangelicals. And Christian exorcism is still being practiced in the West, only not to the degree of murder.
Christianity, following Judaism, has been praising the faith of Abraham in intending to (though being stopped at the last moment) sacrifice his own son upon God's order. By praising Abraham, Christianity indirectly endorses human sacrifice. Abraham might have nothing to do with the situation in Nigeria, but seeing human life as less worthy than faith in God is the same common core value behind. Religious faiths, including Christianity, can be dangerous. The only safeguard is to put universal human rights standard above all religious faiths and all religious authorities, including the Holy Bible. Put it simply, to make the world safer, we must put human life above God.
The Bible says that Satan is real, demon possession is real. The Bible and the Church praise Abraham’s attempted child sacrifice. If you believe that a particular child is being possessed, will you endorse performing exorcism on him/her? Why or why not? If you believe that God demands you to sacrifice your own son, will you obey God out of faith? Why or why not? Is faith a virtue or a vice? Should a believer obey or be critical of religious authorities (Bible, Church, Pope, ministers, the Nigerian children-killing Christian leaders, etc)? These are important questions for all Christians to ask themselves.
1 Saving Africa’s Witch Children (Channel 4)
"In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine: and branded witches. Denounced as Satan made flesh by powerful pastors and prophetesses, these children are abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered: all in the name of Jesus Christ."
2 End Of The Wicked – Helen Ukpabio www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUeKBibBN0I
3 Helen Ukpabio supporters invade child rights conference in Calabar, Nigeria
4 Witch Hunter Takes Humanist to Court (from a CFI email)
In May 2009, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) launched an anti-superstition campaign to highlight and combat the abuse of alleged "child witches" throughout the African continent. Now "witch hunter" Helen Ukpabio, head of the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria, has filed a lawsuit in Nigerian federal court against Leo Igwe, CFI's representative in Nigeria.
The events were set into motion on July 29 when a mob of about 150 members from Ukpabio's Liberty Gospel Church attacked Igwe and others during a "Child Rights and Witchcraft" event in Calabar, Nigeria. Police finally broke up the mob and arrested one person. Igwe’s bag, phone, camera, and a copy of his planned speech were stolen and his eyeglasses were smashed.
The complaint filed by Ukpabio essentially alleges religious discrimination on the part of Igwe, who has been a tireless vocal critic of Ukpabio's claims that many of Nigeria's children and women are "witches". The suit, scheduled for a hearing on December 17, is seeking an injunction to prevent Igwe and other humanist groups from holding seminars or workshops aimed at raising awareness about the dangers associated with religious belief in witchcraft.
(The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.)
Alex from UUHK