American connections to African witchhunts
Here in New York City, on Thursday, September 30, New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry (NYARBB) will hold a meeting on the topic of “American Connections to African Witchhunts.” If you are interested in attending, please see details and RSVP here.
Below is an expanded version of our pamphlet on this topic, with links to more information.
Throughout Africa — mainly in Christian countries — vast numbers of children have been abandoned by their parents, or worse, often maimed or tortured, on suspicion of being “witches.”
The witch hunts aren’t just a resurgence of indigenous beliefs. They are a result of beliefs encouraged by a new and rapidly growing worldwide religious movement within the Pentecostal/charismatic branch of Christianity.
Aggressive crusades against alleged malevolent “witches” are encouraged by the “spiritual warfare” doctrines of some major leaders of one of the world’s fastest-growing international religious movements, the “apostolic and prophetic” wing of Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity.
One well-known adherent of this movement is Sarah Palin, about whom see Sarah Palin’s ‘Witchcraft Problem’ Is Bigger Than Christine O’Donnell’s ‘Witchcraft Problem’ by Bruce Wilson, September 21, 2010, on Talk To Action — the blog which first broke the story of how, when Sarah Palin first went into politics, she was “anointed” by Thomas Muthee, an internationally recognized (within at least one sector of the Pentecostal/charismatic world) “apostle” who gave her a blessing to protect her against “witches.” Other, even more explosive aspects of this story have not yet reached the mass media, though they are well-documented on Talk To Action. Among other things, Thomas Muthee has bragged about his witch hunting activities in Africa. Sarah Palin also belongs to a prayer network headed by Mary Glazier, another person who has bragged about witch hunting activities –- in Alaska.
Besides Sarah Palin’s prayer mentor Mary Glazier, another American avowed witch hunter was the notorious former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard. (According to Soldiers of Christ: Insider America’s Most Powerful Megachurch by Jeff Sharlet, Harper’s Magazine, November 2, 2006: ”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.”)
Traditionally, to most Christians, the term “spiritual warfare” has usually referred to an internal moral struggle. However, to growing numbers of “apostolic and prophetic” leaders such as C. Peter Wagner and Ed Silvoso, “spiritual warfare” means things like exorcism, witch hunts (a.k.a. “spiritual mapping”), burning non-Christian religious artifacts, and “discipling” whole nations — including their governments, not just individual citizens.
A leading network within this movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, has an explicitly theocratic goal, the “seven mountains mandate”: they explicitly desire to take over seven spheres of power in society including government. And they aim to eradicate what they see as demonic influences, including gays and all non-Christian religions. Their successes in some countries, such as Uganda, have had dire consequences such as Uganda’s kill-the-gays bill.
The New Apostolic Reformation’s “convening apostle” is C. Peter Wagner, whose various organizations are headquartered in Colorado Springs, here in the U.S.A. Sarah Palin is an adherent, via Mary Glazier’s prayer network. And, before Ted Haggard was caught with a male prostitute a few years ago, he worked closely with C. Peter Wagner.
As of today, the mass media are not yet aware of the New Apostolic Reformation, although quite a few of its leaders and other adherents have gotten mass media publicity as individual “evangelicals.” Too often, the mass media lump “evangelicals” into one box. Evangelicals are not all alike. If you Google “New Apostolic Reformation” or “C. Peter Wagner,” many of the web pages that come up are critiques by other, more traditional evangelicals and fundamentalists who consider the New Apostolic Reformation to be heretical.
The currently most notorious African witch hunter, Helen Ukpabio, was consecrated as an “apostle” by Nnadi E. Moses, whose American connections have been documented by Richard Bartholomew, in a blog post about Support for Helen Ukpabio against “Anti-Child Witchcraft” Campaign, February 13, 2010. It is not yet clear to me whether Helen Ukpabio and Nnadi E. Moses are involved in the “New Apostolic Reformation” in particular, but Ukpabio’s title of “apostle” suggests that she is at least an adherent of the “apostolic and prophetic” movement.
We ask mainstream Christians — and non-theocratic evangelicals, Pentecostals, and charismatics — to speak out against the witch hunts. We ask non-Christians to become aware of what is going on and to encourage Christians to speak out.
Given the current hullabaloo over Christine O’Donnell’s alleged dabbling “into witchcraft,” we may now have a better-than-usual opportunity to attract the mass media’s attention to this issue. For the sake of both Africa’s children and the separation of church and state here in the U.S.A., please do whatever you can to help expose the American connections to African witchhunts.
For more information, see:
- Witchhunts in Africa and Asia on the NYARBB message board — includes lots of documentation of African witch hunts.
- The NAR and African witchhunts on Talk To Action — see comments for links to more documentation of the African witch hunts themselves, primarily in Nigeria.
For more about the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR), see:
- Resource Directory for New Apostolic Reformation on Talk To Action
- Sarah Palin & The New Apostolic Reformation on Talk To Action
- “Third Wave” Christianity and the “New Apostolic Reformation” on NYARBB’s page of Resources for learning about the religious right wing
Comments about this statement should be posted in the thread American connections to African witchhunts on the NYARBB message board.