Child Rape in South Africa

A 4-year old girl was reported missing, in Brakpan near Johannesburg, last month.

The entire community was out looking for her, and due to admirable police work, she was eventually found in her own home, under the bed – dead.

The little girl had been raped and murdered, by her own 20-something year old uncle. This is not an allegation – the rapist took the police to where he had hidden the body. That’s an admission of guilt, I think.

The community of Brakpan was devastated. Wreaths and soft toys were laid outside the house where she lived, candles were lit and prayers were prayed, (If you want to appear to be doing something useful, start praying)

The girl’s parents’ lives were threatened because they allegedly did not take proper care of her. (Because violence in response to violence is an appropriate reaction?)

At the funeral, which was in a christian church and attended by hundreds of angry, upset neighbours and friends, a reporter from the local TV station interviewed the little girl’s 6-year old sister.

The interviewer asked her how she felt, and the little girl replied she was “happy” because her baby sister “is in heaven.”

The parents reported that they are “not ready to forgive the rapist yet.”

 

Okay, I don’t know about you, but this whole thing makes me sick to the stomach.

WHY would you feel some obligation to FORGIVE the bastard who had raped your child, caused her terrible suffering and pain, and then murdered her? Even if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, what he did is UNFORGIVEABLE!! He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life. He should be removed from society, locked away for good.

I think it’s despicable that the rape and murder of a child is glossed over, and it’s all okay because she is now “in heaven.” No, she’s not, she’s dead. A sweet young life has been snuffed out in the most horrible way. It’s not okay to take comfort in the belief that she is in a  better place. Face facts – she is dead, you will never see her again. All your hopes and dreams for your daughter have died with her.

BE ANGRY!!!! Do something to prevent more little children suffering the same fate!! Forgiveness and “heaven” are not the correct response to this tragedy!!!

The rapist’s trial has been postponed for the police to do further investigations. And in the meantime, more babies and children suffer the same fate every day. We don’t always have the same outcry about it, but it’s happening. Only 5% of rape cases result in a successful conviction, so this rapist could conceivably get away with his crime…

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS in the world (well over 5 million infections, over 300 000 deaths annually), and there is a supposed “cure” available: sex with a virgin. South Africa also has the highest incidence of child rape in the world.

Connect the dots…

How do we stop this madness?

  • Educate people. especially children, about the real causes and treatments for HIV/AIDS and other venereal diseases
  • Promote safe sex, provide free condoms
  • Reduce police inefficiency and corruption, so that more rape cases are successfully prosecuted
  • Much harsher punishment for anyone found guilty of rape, especially where it results in the death of a child. This is one instance where I think the death penalty would be appropriate – and I don’t say that lightly…
  • Political leadership – preferably get rid of our president who has been on trial for rape himself, and got away with it
  • Better Child Welfare services
  • Citizens should report suspected cases of child abuse – about 90% of child abuse goes unreported in South Africa.

That last point is critical in my opinion. If you know, or suspect, that a child is being abused, report it to the authorities. Get Child Welfare involved. They will get the police involved if it’s warranted.

But don’t just sit back and pretend it’s not happening, and when that child is raped and murdered, don’t comfort yourself with the myth that at least she is now “in heaven,” and you should “forgive” the rapist.

That kind of thinking has only contributed to the terrible situation we find ourselves in now…

A Plea to Wealthy Christians

 

I have just finished reading a book of “Atheist Responses to Religious Arguments” by Frank Butcher. It’s pretty much a confirmation of what I know already, but one of the last points the author made really got me thinking.

Why don’t wealthy christians give away their wealth, as the bible requires them to do if they want to go to heaven?

In the parable of the rich young man, Jesus is said to have declared: “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

and “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven” Mark 10:25

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing we shall be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-10

Clearly the new testament, which is the bit of the bible christians really approve of, is in favour of poverty. The above are just three of many admonitions to the godly to be happy with the basics and not crave wealth.

“blessed are the poor”

And yet, the world is full of super-rich christians! Some of them are “spiritual leaders” who preach the gospel of prosperity – they claim that the bible teaches that financial blessings are the will of god, that faith, positive speech and donations will always increase one’s material wealth (especially donations!)

A good example is that of Oral Roberts, whose Methodist healing ministries reached millions worldwide. He performed hundreds of crusades, and claimed that he could raise the dead. His organisation raked in $120 million a year and employed 2 300 people, at its peak.

Roberts was a pioneer of TV evangelism. In January 1987 he announced that unless he raised $8 million by March, his god would kill him.

 

His passionate pleas and crocodile tears earned him $9.1 million…..

He’s dead now – maybe he wasn’t making enough money to satisfy his god towards the end there 🙂

Even when times were tough, Roberts continued to wear silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets – which were airbrushed out of publicity shots by his staff. (Reed Christopher (15/12/2009) “Oral Roberts Obituary”, The Guardian, London.)

Spreading the gospel has been a VERY profitable business for other evangelists:

  • Benny Hinn’s healing crusades earned him in excess of $200 million a year, with a personal salary of over $500 000. He flies around in a private jet, and has a generally lavish lifestyle
  • Joyce Meyer reportedly earned $900 000 a year back in 2003, thanks to her ministry
  • Kenneth Copeland refuses to tell anyone how much money he makes out of the god-business, but it’s obviously quite a bit because he owns a $20 million private jet, and lives in a mansion the size of a hotel.
  • Creflo Dollar (name says it all) made $69 million in 2006, but refuses to divulge his financial records because he is “concerned for the privacy” of his donors.
  • The list goes on and on…

These preachers lead tax-exempt organisations in the USA, and take full advantage of their “non-profit” status. Obviously, their followers are either unaware of how much money their “spiritual” leaders are making out of them, or they are simply turning a blind eye to the facts.

Copeland’s website, for instance, in his “Financial Accountability” section, merely lists the PERCENTAGES of income spent on the various parts of his ministry – NO actual figures are mentioned anywhere that I could see.

Oral Roberts Ministries “financial report” shows EXPENDITURE, but not INCOME! Sorry guys, that’s not a financial report – that’s you trying to hide the facts.

Benny Hinn’s website actually lists financially relevant questions, such as “How does your ministry spend its money” and then links to a page that tells you what they spend it ON, but not how much they receive, or the amounts they actually spend.

So much for transparency and telling the TRUTH!

So, what about the ordinary, wealthy christian? Do they feel any compulsion to give away their wealth? Especially now, supposedly just before the “rapture”

to be sure of their spot amongst the eternally worshipful and subservient in heaven?

Many christians give regularly to charities, which is very commendable. It doesn’t make them any different from many muslims, jews, buddhists and atheists who all feel compassion for our fellow man, and don’t have any problem supporting worthy causes.

Fortunately, as a Humanist (and atheist), I make my own choices. I am not bound by someone else’s ideas of what’s right or wrong. I’m especially not bound by the “supernatural” ideas of ancient nomadic desert dwellers, and their descendents. I choose to support secular charities such as the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa. Unlike the TV evangelists, the NSRI really does save lives, every day!

Bill Gates. a well-known atheist, has set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and personally donates a large proportion of his wealth to the Foundation, which does very good work in the fields of health, education and agriculture all over the world. Their audited Financial statements are on the web, completely transparent, for anybody to examine – a nice contrast to the charlatans listed above!

Interesting to note: the Gates’ Foundation’s motto is “All Lives Have Value.” This is an atheist/humanist viewpoint, as opposed to the christian or muslim viewpoint that if you’re homosexual, for instance, you have no right to marriage, children, and at the extremist end – life itself. (Or if you’re a muslim, it’s okay to kill innocents in the name of Jihad.)

Please don’t say “Oh, but that’s the EXTREME view, normal christians don’t think that!” Here’s something to think about:

  • the bible specifically forbids homosexuality, and if you believe the bible, then so should you – even though that view is abhorrent to any rational person – because it is the Word of God
  • extremists don’t just pop out of the air – they start out as normal human beings, are thoroughly indoctrinated as children, and grow more extremist the deeper they get immersed into religion
  • extremists are the ones who follow the bible to the letter – especially the old testament which condones slavery, rape, murder, and other heinous crimes against humanity.

 

In my opinion it’s entirely up to you, the individual, to decide how to spend your hard-earned money. I think it’s most important to take care of yourself and your family, save for your retirement, and enjoy your life. If you have money to donate to charities, by all means do so if you want to.

However, if you’re a christian, and truly want to follow Jesus, then I guess you would feel differently? So, Wealthy Christian, are you going to give it all away – the land, the houses, the cash and jewellery – or hang onto it until death do you part?

What Would Jesus Do 🙂

 

 

Bees in the yard? You need a Sangoma!

Africans, especially South Africans, are very superstitious. Long before Christianity invaded the continent, Africans worshipped their ancestors – and in spite of Christianity’s best efforts (or maybe because of it) they still do.

“Appeasing the ancestors” was cited when bulls were slaughtered outside each new FIFA World Cup stadium in 2010. Yes, that’s right – blood was shed so that the South African football team could win a few games of football….


 

 

You may have noticed that they didn’t do very well, barely scraping through the first matches and coming nowhere near the Finals. Clearly, the ancestors were not appeased by the bellowing of the bull, his legs bound, having his throat slit by a cheetah-skinned witch doctor with a rusty knife.

When the ANC (African National Congress, the ruling party in South Africa) opened its Centenary celebrations in Bloemfontein in January, our President had to put on his skins, shells and feathers and perform the bull slaughtering ritual to please the ancestors. Unfortunately, the President is a bit old, and a bit unfit to carry the whole gory process through to its terrible conclusion. so a younger man had to do it. The ancestors were obviously not pleased by this either – the 1 million government-issue condoms supplied for the Centenary celebrations were withdrawn (pardon the pun) because they were all full of holes….. So much for “Protection!”

(As an aside: Why do they need to supply 1 MILLION condoms for a supposedly dignified political party to celebrate its 100th Birthday? Could those men who were planning to screw their way through the whole thing not have brought along their own condoms?? How lucky did they think they were going to get, anyway??)

This last week, the family of a dead South African singer, Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Khumalo, were told by a Sangoma (witch doctor) that they were to bring a pure white goat into Johannesburg central, to be slaughtered, to please the ancestors. This Sangoma said the singer was not in fact dead and she knew where to find him (even though he had died as a result of drinking a potion supplied by a different Sangoma in 2009 and been buried before their eyes).

Sure enough, a young man appeared, claiming to be the dead singer – and THOUSANDS of South African fans rushed to see him. The police had to be brought in to control the crowds! Never mind the fact that the imposter looked nothing like the dead singer, had a different name, and admitted that he couldn’t even sing! The family bought his story of being held captive as a zombie by witch doctors for the past few years – hook, line and sinker. One of the dead man’s wives even shacked up with the imposter!

Unfortunately for him, we have such a thing as DNA and finger-print identification. He has been identified, arrested and charged with fraud.

Such is the level of superstition and gullibility among South Africans – they are quite open to the idea that a man can rise from the dead…. Oh, wait a minute…I suppose that includes most Americans, a large number of the conservative British, and some older Europeans too.

And, this very weekend, a Sangoma in East London is performing her magical appeasement of the ancestors, murdering another hapless white goat. Why? To rid a woman of some bees that have set up a hive in a tree in her garden! That’s right folks – the ancestors can control the bees too.

So, what exactly is a Sangoma? She, or sometimes he, is a traditional “healer” who diagnoses illness through divination. She uses “muti” made from roots, herbs, bark, animal and HUMAN body parts to cast spells, perform rituals and tell fortunes.

A Sangoma realises she is being called to the Craft after suffering some illness such as a headache, stomach ache, neck or shoulder pain, or has a psychotic episode. She then goes to Sangoma School where she learns to respect the ancestors, how to gather and use muti, she bathes in the blood of sacrificed animals, and on graduation gets to sacrifice her own little goat and wear its gallbladder on her head.

We have about 200 000 Sangomas in South Africa, and they are the healer-of-choice for most of our population (80% of whom claim to be Christians, by the way). When you go to a Sangoma to diagnose and treat your illness, there will be loads of chanting, dancing, drumming and burning of plants to summon the ancestors. When the ancestor invades the Sangoma’s body she will go into a shamanistic trance, speaking in tongues and doing other scary stuff. If you’re lucky she may just “throw the bones” or interpret your dreams to tell you what’s wrong with you, instead of scaring the shit out of you with that whole spirit possession thing.

Once the ancestors have revealed to her what you’re suffering from, and figured out how to treat you, she will give you some muti – “medications” of sand, plant and animal origin, imbued with “spiritual significance” and symbolism – and send you on your way.

Unfortunately, these remedies are among the leading cause of unnatural deaths in South Africa. Even children are fed these “medicines” and die horrible deaths as a result. EVEN WORSE is the fact that men, women, and especially little children, are MURDERED to provide Sangomas with their muti!

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TRUTH IS:

  • Sangomas are not medically trained in any way
  • they are not qualified to diagnose anything
  • they are not qualified to treat anything.
  • Their “remedies” are at best harmless herbs, but at worst FATALLY POISONOUS untested concoctions.
  • Ancestor worship is pointless. Your ancestors are dead, they do not communicate with you through psychotic women in self-induced hypnotic trances!

What’s the Harm?

  • Thousands of dead people with sand and herbs and crushed body parts inserted into various orifices?
  • Little boys and girls murdered in the veld with their eyes, lips and genitals cut out?
  • Women raped and murdered and their breasts cut off?

Do you need to hear any more?

Superstition, witchcraft, religious ritual and trade in human body parts… and all in the name of legally sanctioned “Traditional Medicine.”

This superstitious practise is so pervasive that Medical Aid societies in South Africa may soon be forced to pay their members out for visits to a Sangoma, and employers will have to accept “sick notes” obtained by employees who visit a legally registered Sangoma.

Many South Africans believe that muti is a better treatment for HIV/AIDS than anti-retrovirals (ARVs).

However, there is a danger of drug interactions if an HIV sufferer uses herbal products while taking ARVs, and the ARVs may be less effective as a result – but some believe this is just a conspiracy to undermine “traditional African medicine”. In spite of the clinical evidence, they would rather believe the promises of their Sangoma than those of their properly qualified medical doctors. Sometimes they stop using ARVs in favour of herbal “medicines”, or delay starting ARVs – much to their own detriment.

It’s no wonder southern Africa has  the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world….

Poverty and a terrible lack of education will ensure the Sangomas stay in business. The steady legitimising of the craft, and its acceptance in wider society as some kind of New Age shamanism, will also ensure their survival.

Will rationality ever prevail in a society like this one?

I sincerely doubt it!

 


Should A Christian Consult A Psychic?

Let me state right at the beginning that I am not a christian, I don’t even spell christian with a capital C. (I USED to be a christian, but that’s another story.)

However, I do think quite a lot about religion, because it is such an important facet of society, and I like to think I’m fairly well-informed on the subject.

So, when one of my christian colleagues tells me she knows an “incredible psychic” she wants me to see (to overcome my scepticism of all psychics) my first reaction is: Should this person, who believes in an all-knowing, omnipotent god (note, no capital G) be consulting someone who claims to be able to see the future using paranormal powers?

As far as I am aware, this is a very un-christian thing to do. Aren’t they supposed to have faith that their god already has their future all planned out and is taking care of them, and whatever happens will be for the best because it is “God’s Will”?

Don't you trust me??

The christian god doesn’t like his followers to consult fortune-tellers and psychics. His own holy book has numerous passages such as:

  • Deuteronomy 18:10-12
  • There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord
  • Leviticus 19:31
  • “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.

To an interested observer like me, that seems pretty clear!

Assuming we can agree that the christian god has declared consulting psychics, fortune-tellers and mediums to be verboten, the question is: why do so many practising christians do it? There could be several reasons:

  • they have never properly read their own holy book, so they don’t know they shouldn’t be paying some charlatan to contact their Auntie Emily from Beyond the Grave to tell her that her cat just died and will be joining her soon (As if she didn’t already know!),
  • they have read the book but they don’t think it applies to them – so it’s okay to pay a fortune- teller to look into their future – perhaps the tall, dark stranger really is out there, just waiting for you to come into his life, if you cross that lady’s palm with silver….
  • they know it applies to them but they don’t care – which means they don’t take their own deity seriously. Apparently, that course could lead to eternal damnation – fire and brimstone, guys in red latex body-suits with pointy sticks and all that?
  • they DON’T SEE THE HARM.

Let’s examine that last point.

Psychics rely on people’s belief in their apparently “paranormal powers”. People don’t always think critically, so it is pretty easy to fool them using pretty standard techniques. There are many famous instances of psychics cheating – James Randi has written extensively on the subject, and has offered a $1 million prize to anyone who can demonstrate any paranormal ability under controlled conditions. Many have tried, and all have failed.

Psychic con artists take people’s money and feed them lies, prey on their grief at losing a loved one, mislead police investigations and just generally waste everybody’s time.

If you want to read about the harm caused by psychics, please read What’s the Harm? The website draws on reports from all over the world and makes for horrifying, disturbing, often tragic reading.

Here is a very instructive lesson on How To Be A Psychic – do you recognise any of these steps from the last time you visited a psychic/fortune-teller/clairvoyant? You should – they’re commonly used ploys to get you to believe the bullshit they’re about to feed you!

So, should a christian consult a psychic? Should anybody? What do you think?