The NAR and African witchhunts
Diane Vera printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 02:31:14 PM EST
A few weeks ago, the British documentary "Saving Africa's Witch Children" was shown on HBO2.  The New York Times published On a Visit to the U.S., a Nigerian Witch-Hunter Explains Herself.  Here on Talk To Action, Christian Dem in NC posted Nigerian preacher promotes child abuse in the name of the Lord.

The witchhunts in Africa are an absolute horror.  Thousands of children have been abandoned or worse -- in some cases tortured, mutilated, or killed -- on suspicion of being witches.

Note that the African witch hunts are NOT purely a resurgence of indigenous African beliefs, but are influenced by today's most rapidly-growing (worldwide) form of Christianity, the independent ("nondenominational") Charismatic churches, especially the "Apostolic and Prophetic" movement within "nondenominational" Christianity. Worse yet, there are close ties between at least some African witch hunters and at least some American religious right wingers. For example, Sarah Palin was "anointed" by Thomas Muthee, an African witch hunter. And there are churches here in the U.S.A. with a similar witch hunt mentality. For example, the well-known now-disgraced former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard used to brag about having driven "witches" out of town.  (About Ted Haggard, see Soldiers of Christ: Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch by Jeff Sharlet, Harper's Magazine, November 2, 2006.  This article includes the following: "He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches -- in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation 'prayer-walked' nearly every street of the city.")

Thomas Muthee and Ted Haggard both are or have been major leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation (as has been documented in various posts here by Rachel Tabachnick, Bruce Wilson, and others).  To those here who have been researching the NAR, it would be worthwhile to examine the extent to which the problem of witchhunts in Africa is tied to the NAR networks.

As I wrote in a comment under Christian Dem in NC's Talk To Action post:

Helen Ukpabio calls herself an "Apostle," which sounds like she's connected with the "Apostolic and Prophetic" movement within charismatic Christianity.  Does anyone here know whether she's connected with the "New Apostolic Reformation" networks in particular?

Over the past ten months or so, I've been putting together a collection of info on Witchhunts in Africa and Asia.

Richard Bartholomew has blogged quite a bit about Helen Ukpabio, including this post:  Support for Helen Ukpabio against "Anti-Child Witchcraft" Campaign, February 13, 2010, in which Helen Ukpabio was identified as the General Overseer of Liberty Gospel Church (in Calabar, Nigeria), and is said to have been consecrated as an apostle by Nnadi E. Moses, Bishop of Overcomers Faith Mission, Lagos, affiliated with Overcomers Church World Outreach, and president of "Apostolic Impact Global Outreach" (AIG).  Moses is quoted as cheering on the violent retaliation, by members of Liberty Gospel Church, against Leo Igwe and others at an anti-witchhunt conference.

Some American connections, according to the above-cited post by Richard Bartholomew:  (1) Virgy Moses (wife of Nnadi E. Moses), a minister at Overcomer Church World Outreach, had been ordained a pastor at the Reach Out for Christ International Ministries in the U.S.A.  (2) Faith World Outreach Church, based in Bartlett, Illinois, here in the U.S.A., pastored by Ed Weiss, has been supporting Bishop Moses for a long time.  Does anyone here know whether Reach Out for Christ International Ministries and/or Faith World Outreach Church have connections to the NAR?

Recently Ed Brayton, on his blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars, has taken an interest in the witchhunts in Africa.  He recently posted Killing Witches in Africa. Again on June 15, 2010, calling attention to the Child's Right and Rehabilitation Network (which runs a home for child victims in Nigeria), and African Witch Hunter Comes to America on June 16, 2010.

In the latter post, Ed Brayton noted, "Helen Ukpabio, a Pentecostal preacher who literally wrote the book on how to determine your child is possessed, was in the US to preach at a Pentecostal church in Houston. ... She is hardly alone, and this church in Houston is not alone in having close ties to these murderous maniacs. Sarah Palin's pal Thomas Muthee is another African Pentecostal minister who has made his name and career on chasing witches out of families and villages."

I replied with a comment calling his attention to the New Apostolic Reformation and the research about it, by Rachel Tabachnick, Bruce Wilson, and others, that is featured here on Talk To Action.

There are several leading academics (at least) whose writing supports the possible role that American evangelicals associated with the NAR may have had in feeding the evolving witch-hunting craze in Africa. One is Paul Gifford, author of African Christianity: It's Public Role. On page 339, Gifford writes,

"We have argued that authors like Peter Wagner, Derek Prince, and the Hammonds cannot be ignored in any discussion of the contemporary formation and legitimation of Africa's contemporary deliverance theology"

The influence of the NAR in Africa of course varies considerably from nation to nation in Africa, even in Sub-Saharan Africa where the NAR may have made the deepest inroads. But in conversations with Kapya Kaoma he has indicated to me that he thinks the impact of the NAR's "spiritual warfare/spiritual mapping" ideology and practices has been considerable in the region.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 07:23:38 PM EST

And thanks for the information about Paul Gifford's book African Christianity: It's Public Role. I would appreciate hearing about any other books (or academic journal papers) you can recommend on this topic.

To me, it seems obvious that the African witchhunters have been influenced by NAR-style demonology.  What would be interesting to research would be the extent to which prominent African witchhunters/exorcists, such as Helen Ukpabio, are not only influenced by the NAR but also have full-fledged organizational ties to the NAR network groups.

Alas, I don't have the time to do this research myself.

by Diane Vera on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 08:40:53 PM EST

P.S.:  Richard Bartholomew has posted about Ukpabio's Allies, July 3, 2010.  Includes a list of names of some of the people who attended Helen Ukpabio's "consecration" as an "apostle" in August of last year.  Good data for anyone researching her connections.

by Diane Vera on Mon Jul 05, 2010 at 12:07:16 PM EST

On his blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton has written:

  1. Witch-Hunting Bishop Speaks at Lakeland Church, June 21, 2010, about a visit to the U.S.A. by Nigerian Bishop NE Moses, who had "consecrated" Helen Ukpabio as an "Apostle."

  2. Pastor Strader Responds, July 8, 2010, about an email from the pastor of the church where Bishop NE Moses spoke.

by Diane Vera on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 12:41:59 PM EST

From Bartholomew's Notes on Religion:

  1. Helen Ukpabio Endorses Abusive Attack Site, July 7, 2010.

  2. Lakeland Mega-Church Pastor Responds on NE Moses Links, July 8, 2010.

by Diane Vera on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 01:01:47 PM EST

Richard Bartholomew has posted UNICEF Report Highlights African Child Witchcraft Stigmatisation, July 19, 2010, about a report (PDF) by anthropologist Aleksandra Cimpric.

by Diane Vera on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 12:30:45 AM EST

Very good and impressive documentary, I'm hoping to read more of your valuable advice and knowledge.

by nsanyi23 on Mon Aug 09, 2010 at 07:54:28 AM EST

About a three-part series on CNN's Connect the World:  CNN Highlights Child-Witch Stigmatisation, August 25, 2010; More from CNN on Pastors and Child-Witches in Africa,  August 26, 2010; and Third Segment from CNN on Child-Witches, August 27, 2010.

by Diane Vera on Sat Aug 28, 2010 at 11:01:13 PM EST

Richard Bartholomew has posted Governor Godswill Akpabio Claims Child-Witch Problem "Under Control", Attacks Reports, September 1, 2010, quoting a CNN interview with Godswill Akpabio, governor of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria (Nigerian governor says abuse of child 'witches' exaggerated, by the CNN Wire Staff, August 31, 2010).

by Diane Vera on Wed Sep 01, 2010 at 06:42:06 AM EST

From Richard Bartholomew, about the latest developments in Nigeria:  Governor of Akwa Ibom Threatens NGOs Protecting "Child Witches" with Arrest, September 16, 2010.

Meanwhile, I also came across Witchraft Abuse: How it increases vulnerability to human trafficking, Stop the Traffik, April 22, 2010.

by Diane Vera on Thu Sep 16, 2010 at 05:31:01 PM EST

I live in TN, in a small town in the Bible belt. We are Wiccan but very quiet about here. Several years ago, several people found out about us being Wiccans and tried to burn down our house with us in it. Southerners do not like witches and fear them, calling us devil-worshippers - even though we don't believe in the devil, any more than we believe in Santa Claus. We never harmed anyone here but we are shunned and scorned (hopefully moving this year). I don't know one single Wiccan here in the South who hasn't been threatened with something horrible such as job loss, house burning etc. I know of one little boy who was outed at school and has PTSD from the threats and guilt-trips by the school. He has nightmares and even though he was always a straight A student who loved school, he hates school now and is afraid to go. It's happening right here in America and most people have no idea. It doesn't just affect adults, it also affects our children - horribly. We don't have freedom of religion in the U.S. and it's getting worse. And yet, the Christian Supremacists still cry that THEY are the victims. It's mind-boggling and sickening. Even though I'm Wiccan, I still try to follow Jesus' teachings, as I was taught in grammar school - that Jesus is love, compassion and peace. They're good values but the Christians don't seem to follow their own leader - witness the preacher who was just fired in Arizona for speaking out against violence.

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