I wrote this morning on the heart wrenching and mind numbing news of a 60 year old woman being butchered to death for allegedly being a witch, an incident that no human being with a functioning brain should ever engage in.
Having to write on that left me sick to my stomach, that any group of people could be so callous and detached from reality to engage in such an act. But then that was replaced with outrage at the ludicrous system we have built up in this country that leads to people taking these kinds of actions, and the fact that people are fighting so hard to keep that system.
Soon, you would hear the litany of condemnations from public authorities and clergy, and even normal everyday Christians and people of other faiths, condemning this action. But that is the most annoying part of the entire thing, because all these people, every single one of them, are part of the problem.
This is because they belong to belief systems that validate this kind of thinking, which is belief in the supernatural. Whilst there are parts of the country still in the grips of our old superstitious traditions, this Northern town Buipe likely being one of them, the majority of the country that has migrated to Christianity and Islam also maintain beliefs in these paranormal things that only seem to work in ways that people’s minds lead them to.
So instead of a country where we can gradually educate the fringe who believe in this stuff and drag them into the 21st century with us, we actually have an overwhelming majority believing in it. So even respectable members of society can believe in such superstitious nonsense, thus legitimising what is clearly an insane position, backed by no evidence, for children coming up, who are indoctrinated into the religion and its attendant belief in the supernatural.
In the twisted world of faith and religion, people can have those sort of powers and use it to harm others. Therefore, it is only logical, in the minds of these people, that you stop them from using their powers, by any means necessary.
Which is why I refer to the faux outrage Christians would probably pour out at this news. You would be hard pressed to find a Ghanaian Christian who doesn’t beseech God in their prayers to strike their perceived enemies down dead, or destroy their lives in some other way. If God could actually get anything done, rather than hiding in the clouds drowning out the noise produced by billions of praying Christians everyday with his ‘Beats by Dre’ headset, Ghanaians would kill each other with their prayers. So it is a tad hypocritical to turn around and condemn such actions.
And on what moral grounds are you making that condemnation. The bible encourages belief in sorcery and the devil and the like, infact, God has a plan for those damn witches. He outlines it in Exodus 22:18, when he said “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” In fact, for many centuries the Catholic Church stridently adhered to this provision, killing many innocent women for every misfortune they wanted to blame on someone. They called it ‘The Inquisition’, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it. Many superstitious societies have also indulged, and still do, this kind of depravity.
What I’m driving at here is that religion legitimises this kind of behaviour, whether it’s Christianity or Islam or our traditional beliefs. We have space in all of them for witches and demons and sorcerers and many other crazy beliefs. Thankfully, not many people actually do anything in the real world to fight this, preferring to fight it in the ‘spiritual realm’, where nothing really happens- but when some do bring it into this world, it hurts real people, innocent people, disproportionately women. And even if it’s one person a year it’s an unacceptable return when we could have zero people a year with a more rational population
Now feeling bad at a tragedy is a human reaction, and expressing regret for it is only fair. But when you hold a belief system that validates such thinking, you have little room for manoeuvre, because then you are indeed a part of the problem. Valuing faith over science leads to believing in the improbable as more than possible, and that naturally leads you to make bad decisions about this world that affects other people. And that’s not ok.
We need to make a concerted effort to stop believing in stupid sh*t. The strength of religions, Christianity especially, has been the ability to adapt to the changing world, co-opting the best in scientific knowledge and claiming it. We know that everything witches used to be blamed for can be explained in other ways, and there is no reason to think these special kinds of people can circumvent the laws of nature. But then we you believe your pastor can heal people magically out of thin air, I guess it follows that someone can likewise sit in their room and afflict others with diseases.
And that is my whole point, such kind of beliefs are outdated and not supported by the evidence, and as the world moves more towards using reason and rationality as measures for solving problems, our reliance on faith and superstition risks worsening our already sickening decline.