January 10, 2011

Exporting Fundamentalist Christianity to Ghana

GhanaFrom an early age, those of us in the United States are taught to look down on so-called third world countries. We are told that they are "primitive" and "backwards" and reassured that we have progressed far beyond them in most ways. Some of the embarrassing things from our distant past might still happen there, but we have certainly learned the error of our ways and moved on.

As an example, consider the burning of "witches," a practice that once occurred here in the U.S. and now is mostly relegated to the third world nations. When we here reports of women being suspect of witchcraft in African nations, we marvel at how ignorant they are and express surprise over their backward culture.

What we seldom realize is that there is at least one gigantic problem with this: some of the attacks on "witches" are happening because of our Christian fundamentalist religion. According to this article in The Guardian, a 72 year-old grandmother in Ghana was burned to death with kerosene because she was suspected of being a witch. And of the five people who tortured and then burned this woman, one just so happened to be an evangelical pastor.

According to Ghana's Daily Graphic (update: link no longer active), those arrested for this crime "denied the crime and claimed that they were rather praying to exorcise the evil spirit from the deceased, Ama, when the anointing oil they had applied to her body caught fire."

Comfort Akosua Edu, of Ghana's Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, summed it up well when she said:
It is very disheartening that some men of God, whose responsibility it is to help save lives, could orchestrate the killing of innocent souls, all in the name of God.

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