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 🙂

 

 

Faith versus Medical Science

The husband of a colleague of mine has been very ill, and was admitted to a hospital yesterday for tests. I understand he has seen various doctors already, including a neurologist, but there has been no definite diagnosis as yet.

It sounds as though he might have had a stroke, or be suffering from epilepsy, or possibly a tumour – I’m not a doctor, so I can’t speculate. He was admitted to quite a good hospital, they ran some tests, and have decided to transfer him to a better hospital in Pretoria, for further tests. His doctors are obviously taking his plight seriously, and are investigating every angle. I truly hope they can find out what is wrong, and treat him successfully – for the sake of his wife and children.

I asked my colleague today how she was handling the stress, and during our conversation she got quite emotional… who wouldn’t be emotional in her situation? I tried to reassure her, telling her she should be grateful for the doctors, nurses and hospitals, for the sophisticated medical equipment and treatments available – they will do everything in their power to diagnose and treat him.

(If he’d been born in the Middle Ages, he might have been subject to all sorts of horrendous “treatments,” any one of which might have killed him! Blood-letting was particularly popular….. Fortunately, medical science has evolved since then!)

Sometimes an illness is too far advanced to be treated successfully, and sometimes there is no known cure…. Holding back her tears, my colleague said “All I can do is have faith in God to help us.”

That got me thinking: why would anyone think that God can make a difference in this situation? If God cared, wouldn’t he have prevented her husband getting sick in the first place? If he was powerless to prevent the illness, couldn’t he have used his omnipotent superpowers to guide the doctors to make a quick diagnosis, instead of putting this family through this torture?

Of course, the True Believer will respond that this man’s illness, and the pain and anguish of his wife and children are all part of some “Divine Plan.”

I can’t imagine what Plan would consist of such cruelty – clearly this god is a bit of a sadist – but assuming that is correct and there is a Plan of some sort – what point would there be in praying to him for help? He clearly has his mind made up already!


Here’s an interesting thought experiment: take 100 religious people and 100 non-believers. Inject them all with a bacterium which is normally fatal. Isolate each group on a separate island, with food and shelter, and give the atheists the antibiotic known to be effective against the bacterial infection.

Don’t give the religious group any antibiotics – instead send out a worldwide news release, asking people of the same religious persuasion to pray for the religious group to be healed by their god. Naturally, there will be a massive response and the heavens will positively ring with the desperate prayers of the faithful.

Come back to each island in 3 months time, and count the survivors.

Any guess as to which group will have the greatest number still living?

Most people would admit that the group of non-believers would have the most survivors, because the gods don’t really answer prayers. (Ask any religious person you know if they would volunteer to be in the religious group, and I can guarantee they will come up with a really good excuse to not participate!)

My colleague would be better off putting her confidence in the doctors and hospitals who are actually DOING something to help her husband. These people and institutions are REAL  i.e. they can be shown to actually exist

You don’t have to have “FAITH” in them. You can hate and distrust them if you want to. They will still do their very best, apply their knowledge and experience, use their diagnostic tools, and try to help regardless of how you feel about them. They don’t need you to worship them. They WANT to cure your illness, and all they ask is to be reimbursed for their time and skill.

If you need to be convinced of the terrible HARM that can come from relying on faith that a god, any god, will heal you – read this! You can pick up any newspaper on almost any day and find similar stories. Faith is not an effective medical treatment!

I’m not referring exclusively to the christian version of faith healing here – most religions claim that their god has the power to heal, and works through humans, animals or even inanimate objects. (Even bits of rock are supposed to be able to heal – see my article on the Atlantean Power Crystals.)

I feel deep compassion for people who are deceived by faith healing. It’s not their fault – they have been brought up to believe it. They have probably never heard an alternate view – and even when they do, they tend to reject such views outright because they have invested too much in their religion already. It’s a hard habit to break, apparently.

Here is a video by Derren Brown, which explains how faith healers deceive people into believing they have special powers.  Here is James Randi’s expose of Peter Popoff who received radio transmissions through a wireless earpiece during his healing crusades, feeding him information about the audience who had filled out prayer cards before the performances….. Fortunately, this charlatan is no longer in the faith healing business!

Trickery and fraud by faith healers has been exposed many, many times – read James Randi’s excellent book “Faith Healers” for more infamous examples. If so many faith healers are using these tricks, how do you know if any one faith healer really does have Special Powers?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!

So far the evidence is stacked high and wide against faith healing.

Supernatural claims are outside of the realm of scientific study, but some scientists have tried to measure the effects of prayer and found them to be largely absent or negative. I found some interesting articles, mostly reaching similar conclusions:

“Meta-studies of the broader literature have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that there is “no discernable effect” while a 2007 systemic review of intercessory prayer reported inconclusive results, noting that 7 of 17 studies had “small, but significant, effect sizes” but the review noted that the three most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings.” from Wikipedia

Prayer is often credited with rather unmiraculous benefits, such as recovery from heart surgery which would most likely have happened anyway, especially if the patient is in intensive care, receiving medication and expert nursing 24/7.

I think the real “miracle” is the dedication of the nurses, the intelligence of the doctors and the persistence of the researchers. We are living in an age of amazing advances in medical science – why does anybody bother with the Sky Fairy and his Associates?