PAN Media Release
June 9, 2011
The Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated is campaigning to support the fight against child ‘witch’ killings in Africa.
Tens of thousands of children are abused, abandoned or murdered every year due to allegations that they practice ‘witchcraft’. Some are burned to death, some beaten to death, some lynched, some poisoned, and some hacked to death with machetes. Others are abandoned in towns and cities where they face sexual abuse and human trafficking. Police, many of whom share fears about witches, do nothing according to human rights organisations.
“This horror is being perpetrated by religious fundamentalists,” PAN President David Garland said today. “You have churches like the Liberty Gospel Church in Nigeria aggressively competing to attract followers and funds. The quickest way to do this is to whip up a witch-hysteria.”
The Liberty Gospel Church is notorious for its witch-hysteria campaigns. Its founder, Helen Ukpabio, has written that “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan”.
Children who are supposedly ‘demon-possessed’ often undergo torture at the hands of fundamentalist pastors during so-called exorcisms or deliverance sessions. Such exorcisms routinely include starvation, beatings, and immersion in scalding water or acid. The pastors are paid by the parents of accused child-witches for this abuse. See http://whrin.org.uk/
“What these so-called ‘Christians’ are doing to children is nothing short of evil,” Mr Garland said. “It is the abuse and torture of children. The fact that they are using Bibles and bizarre beliefs about waging spiritual warfare to legitimise their actions is sickening.”
He added: “We want Pagans around the world to talk about this, to raise awareness and donate funds to the cause. We are calling on other Pagan representative organisations to join forces with us – we want churches like the Liberty Gospel Church to be put out of business permanently.”
The Pagan Awareness Network wants to know if evangelical churches in the US, the UK and Australia support or fund the Liberty Gospel Church and their exorcism practices. There are now major Liberty Gospel Churches in Cameroon, Rome and South Africa as well as Nigeria. The spread of this fundamentalist group and their views is a serious concern.
Mr Garland said: “We are hoping for a strong condemnation from churches all around the globe, but whether we get it is another matter – so far it seems as if African children are not worth protecting.”
The Pagan Awareness Network is hoping that by raising awareness people will donate towards the cause directly via www.steppingstonesnigeria.org.
President – Pagan Awareness Network Inc
Media Officer – Pagan Awareness Network Inc
The Pagan Awareness Network Incorporated Australia (PAN Inc) is a not-for-profit educational association with members Australia-wide. It has no formal ties with any religious body, but works in a proactive fashion, both within the Pagan community and as a point of contact for the public, including government and media organisations.