On April Fools Day, appropriately enough, The Social Transformation Conference will be held at Harvard University. The people speaking at this event are Christian Dominionists who are hiding behind a facade of benign language to get this conference hosted at Harvard University. They use the following language to appear tolerant of diversity and open to varying views:
Social transformation can be defined as the process of large scale change for an environment where a shift occurs in the consciousness, in attitudes and values of a community or society (whether local, state, national or global). Scientific discoveries can cause social transformation as can religious movements (such as the great awakening of New England) or governmental policy (such as the end of apartheid in South Africa). Faith-Based Social Transformation is the process of positively changing an environment for the better using faith-based principles. This includes efforts to positively influence a nation’s culture by working to improve the values-based systems and ethical mindsets in its key strategic fronts, spheres or “mountains” — business, government, education, media, arts & entertainment, religion and family.
Notice the last statement. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. This is the nice version of what these people are pushing. Instead of the usual spiritual warrior phrases of seizing the “spheres or mountains” and having dominion over society (every knee SHALL bow), they want you to think that they are merely striving for improvement.
Bruce Wilson at Talk2Action has a hilarious video on YouTube showing some of these “faith based” speakers in their native habitat of speaking in tongues, anointing with oil, casting out demons, and faith healing.
This would be hilarious except for the very real damage these attitudes and beliefs are having in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The BBC and Channel 4 in Britain showed a horrifying documentary of children being accused of being witches and either being abandoned or murdered. The lucky ones ended up in the Stepping Stones safe compound. These same pastors at this conference mentor the same pastors in Africa who are encouraging and participating in these child killings.
Here is a review of the documentary Saving Africa’s Witch Children. Parts of the documentary are still on YouTube.
Bits of the film were almost unbearable to watch: four- and five-year-old children, terrified out of their wits during church excommunications; young children horribly scarred by the beatings and torture that are used to extract “confessions” of their Satanic allegiance; the utterly empty eyes of a five-year-old girl called Mary who had been abandoned after her mother died and she was blamed for causing the death by a local preacher. The only saving grace was the presence of Gary Foxcroft and his Nigerian colleagues, who run a local charity, Stepping Stones, to look after the traumatised victims of these poisonous superstitions. Those confronted with their cruelty are not ashamed but adamant that they have done the right thing. “I want to kill that small girl,” declared a grinning man, when Gary attempted to reunite one foundling with her mother. As her neighbour waved his machete, chuckling, the little girl’s features smeared into utter terror. She knew he meant it.
Here is another review.
Located in southeastern Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State claims to have more churches per square mile than any other place on the planet.
But a dark side exists to the pious surface: A virulent strain of Christian Pentecostalism, blended with native beliefs, inspires hysteria when bad fortune or illness befalls the area, with preachers and families branding children witches.
The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that tens of thousands of innocent children have been targeted throughout Africa, including 15,000 in Akwa Ibom State alone.
Directed by Mags Gavan and Joost van der Valk and narrated by Sophie Okonedo (“Hotel Rwanda”), Saving Africa’s Witch Children exposes the grimly appalling treatment of children deemed witches, and chronicles the work of two men who have devoted their lives to helping those ostracized by their communities.
To the superstitious in Africa, no event has a natural, causal or scientific reason. Any tragedy – disease, miscarriage, unemployment or death in the family – is considered the work of witches.
And defenseless children, sometimes as young as three months, can be scapegoated and subjected to horrifying punishments. The lucky are merely ostracized by their families and left to fend for their own, while others are tortured through a myriad of methods, from being set afire to having nails driven into their skulls, or simply murdered.
Says Foxcroft, “It is an absolute scandal. Any Christian would be absolutely outraged that they are taking the teachings of Christ to exploit and abuse innocent children.” The documentary includes footage of children from Foxcroft’s shelter being threatened by angry locals. He adds, “It’s really difficult not to lose your temper when you’re just in the face of pure bloody hatred, and then they say, ‘Oh, I’m a Christian.’ ”
Gavan and van der Valk expose the work of “Bishop” Sunday Ulup-Aya, who charges families up to a year’s salary – in Nigeria, many survive on just a dollar a day – to “exorcise” children suspected of witchcraft, feeding them a toxin he calls a “poison destroyer,” which consists of alcohol, African mercury and his own blood. If families cannot pay his fee, he holds their children captive.
Saving Africa’s Witch Children also reveals the disturbing activities of one of Nigeria’s wealthiest evangelical priestesses, Helen Ukpabio of Liberty Church, who has created books and films decrying witchcraft.
Here is the update to the original documentary.
This is the horror that these assholes wish to bring to the US.
There is an editorial in the Harvard student paper, The Harvard Crimson, expressing concern that these people are presenting a conference where no opposing views are allowed.