"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

9.24.2008

gonna catch a big one...

So... a number of media outlets are reporting that a guest pastor at Sarah Palin's church got his start in witch hunting in Africa.

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Maybe this wouldn't be a big deal if he hadn't laid hands on her and prayed for her political career in 2005.

Unfortunately, these things don't only happen at Landover Baptist Church. It's a very real problem in several countries in Africa, including the D.R. Congo, where children are routinely accused of being sorcercers and thrown out of their homes. Earlier this year in Kenya, eleven people were burned to death after a mob witch hunt. Pastors who take the view that there's a need for spiritual warfare against actual demons and evil spirits (and the charismatic and pentecostal movements of which they're a part) have an easy time finding followers in most African societies. Most traditional religious practices in Africa involve a belief in an active spirit world. Syncretizing the teachings of certain branches of Christianity into those traditional beliefs is easy, and it happens all the time.

Now. I happen to think that since the Constitution forbids a religious test for holding public office in this country means that we should largely leave our candidates alone when it comes to their personal religoius beliefs. We should be concerned that we're electing people of wise judgment and good character, but the specifics of their belief are not supposed to be the center of the debate.

I'm also not 100% sure that "witch hunting" accurately describes what Pastor Muthee was actually up to, although he certainly was engaged in what he calls "spiritual warfare" in a specific territory. Check out this 1999 Christian Science Monitor article for a less sensationalized account of his activities in Nairobi.

But these views are at least as out of the mainstream - if not more so - than anything Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright ever said. Can you imagine the firestorm that would be out there if this had been a leader in Biden's church?

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