Monday, November 22, 2010

Witchcraft Hysteria Returns to America

Just yesterday I read in the latest MacLean's magazine, an innocuous statement about witchcraft. I can't remember it exactly, but similar to "It may be hard for us to realize in a modern western civilization that some people in primitive superstitious countries still believe in witchcraft."

American fundamentalist Christians do in fact believe in witchcraft. Actually, I don't have a problem with people who believe in witchcraft.  I do have a problem with anyone who believes witches exist and need to be killed. 

The fundamentalists don't yet tell everyone about their Witch Hunting Puritanism, but Sarah Palin, for example has been involved in an anti-witchcraft ceremony. So was another Tea Party candidate, Christine O'Donnell, who started off her campaign with with the statement "I am not a witch". Notice the difference between "I am not a witch" and "Nobody is a witch."

Why do Canadians, and even a lot of Americans continue to ignore the number of fundamentalists who believe in witchcraft, and worse yet, witch-burning?

Here is a webpage from Just for some perspective, my blog is ranked 5,537,322nd on Alexa (website traffic rating system), while ranks 44,542nd.

"It's sad that the average professed Christian nowadays sees little harm in the evils of Harry Potter, Sabrina the Teenage Witch or Walt Disney's Satanic W.I.T.C.H. series. Woe unto America!"
"The Bible, God's inspired Word, condemns all of the aforementioned forms of witchcraft. Witchcraft by Biblical definition is seeking spiritual guidance, power, or knowledge from any source other than God and His holy Word. A witch is one who seeks or derives powers from the Devil. God hates witchcraft in every form... “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire [abortion], or that useth divination [psychics], or an observer of times [astrologers], or an enchanter [magicians], or a witch” (Deuteronomy 18:10). It is a serious matter to God. There's no such thing as “white witchcraft.” All witchcraft is rooted in rejection of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. Instead, witches worship hundreds of pagan deities, including the sex-perverted god of rape, Pan."

About the The 1692 Witch Trials

"Much propaganda has been circulated in recent decades to gain sympathy for witches in America, by focusing upon unjust executions and rigged juries."
It is not to gain sympathy for witches that we remember Salem, it is to make sure that never again are religions allowed to murder people for their imaginary magic.  The entire Puritan religion was driven underground shortly after 1692 and has remained there ever since. That's what should happen when a belief system promotes mass murder.  However the desire to resurrect witch trials and Puritanism has grown quite strong in the last couple of decades, as you can see from this web page.

Here are threats of further witch trials from this so-called Christian web page.
"We ought to obey the Laws set forth in the Word of God. Exodus 22:18 plainly states, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The Bible mandates the death penalty upon all genuine witches, just as the Bible pronounces death for all abortionists, adulterers, murders and homosexuals. Get mad at God if you don't like it, because He said it. Salem, Massachusetts is in serious trouble with God for legalizing, encouraging, sponsoring and honoring witchcraft."
It really seems their only regret is that they didn't get the REAL witches. What are they going to do next time? Using actual evidence is not very likely when you accuse someone of devil worship.  Unfortunately, the only real evidence of a witch is confession, and the only way to get a confession is torture.  Coincidentally, torture is positively viewed by a majority of fundamentalist Christians. (Sorry to have to keep using the word Christian to refer to this type of person who is so obviously anti-Christian.) 

Picture: We joke a lot about witches. If you want to buy this costume, go here. Thankfully, burning witches at the stake is still illegal. Let's keep it that way, and no this is not a joke.


  1. Well, it follows that anyone who accepts the Bible as the 'literal, inerrant, inspired word of God' is also bound to believe in witches, and in punishing those witches.

    Not to mention the other enlightened Bronze Age social attitudes, practices and injunctions and prohibitions laid down by Moses in his 'Second Sermon' as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy, including a competing (with Exodus 20:2-17) version of the 'Ten Commandments' (Deut.5:6).

    Although Moses' 'Sermon' does include such useful admonitions as, 'Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked,' (Deut:10:16), and while the stoning to death of gluttons and drunkards (Deut.21:20) may help to reduce the epidemic of obesity, many of Moses' other commandments may seem a bit harsh to some non-believers. And some requirements, such as building a battlement on any new house (Deut.22:8), may even offend some people's sense of taste and style. But certainly Deut.19:21 is something for all of us to live by: 'And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.'

    While Deuteronomy 18:10 et seq. defines 'witchcraft': 'any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
    [o]r a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer,
    ' it is that delightful section on laws in Leviticus which prescribes stoning to death as the punishment for witchcraft (Lev.20:27).

    All 'good' Christians know that one can't simply cherrypick verses from the Bible, that one cannot arbitrarily treat passages as 'symbolic' or 'literary' (especially key sections such as the Book of Revelation). All 'good' Christians acknowledge that 'Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.' (Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy).

  2. When I raised these issues with a true believer, I was told there is an "old covenant" and a "new covenant" which supercedes it. It's not really clear which parts of the old testament have been obsoleted.

    I would not presume to tell God how to run the universe, but if I was doing it with His omniscience, I would start with covenant 2.0 as the first release, and avoid the confusing part about who to kill and how to do it.

  3. Of course Christians "believe" in "witches" and other forms of nature-based belief systems. Whether they know it or not, if only in the negative.

    Most, if not all, Christian sacred days closely coincide with various ancient "pagan" festivals, the conventional wisdom being early Christians held their ceremonies at these time to remain hidden in plain sight.

    But why persist in having the Easter date fixed on the Sunday after the 1st full moon after the spring equinox? But Christians of different stripes argue about WHICH equinox??!! So much for "inerrant word".

    Much ancient fertility and seasonal pagan symbolism has been appropriated into Christian society, if not the actual religious practices (Christmas trees, Yule logs, Easter bunnies, to name a few). But witches and pagans are "bad". Erm, right. They are "bad" only because the early Christian Church, like all nascent ideologies, had to find evil bogeymen to profess their "goodness" in opposition to.

    Why the resurgence of witch-hating? Because the modern Christian Church and its sociopolitical/miltarist agenda is losing ground ideologically and numerically to other religions, science and nature-based belief systems. So evolution and witchcraft MUST be painted as evil and untrue, as The Bible (either Covenant, Christ says he did not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them) says these can't be real or beneficial in a Christian universe.

    Of course they feel besieged on all fronts. As they should. The Earth rotates around the Sun, the stars are not fixed in the heavens, the universe is older than 5,000 years, evolution is real.

    Witches, pagans, and followers of other religions are not evil. They are just not Christians. That's obviously good enough for the New Inquisition.

  4. Actually it is not all that easy to tell the witches from the Christians. For example

    Paul Jehle at "The Plymouth Rock Foundation"

    argues that contrary to witch propaganda, it was the witches pretending to be Puritans who executed the Christians at Salem.

    To paraphrase his argument: Sure, the bible says you have to kill witches. But the Bible also says you need to have three witnesses to the witchcraft in order to find the witch guilty. And, because witchcraft is essentially an invisible crime, it is impossible to have any witnesses. Therefore no true Christian would have supported this sham of a trial. Furthermore, if the judges and executioners etc were not true Christians (according to this logic) therefore they were witches. (You have to look up the definition of witch) On the other hand, most of the people executed were true Christians because they prayed a lot, and they didn't approve of this mockery of a trial.

    A couple of outright lies in the video, however. There were actually more than three witnesses. Second lie is "Witchcraft by its nature is invisible". When people are screaming and spazzing out in the courtroom, it looks pretty visible. Plus there were confessions, extracted through whatever means were necessary. Plus witnesses who perjured themselves to make up extra juicy details. I think it is shockingly easy to fool sincere fundamentalist Christians, just look at all the faith healers.

    I have found that fundamentalist Christians will never admit do wrongdoing, it does not matter what the horrific crime is. Either 1. They were doing God's work, therefore it is by definition good no matter what. (e.g. Jew's stealing Palestinian land) 2. The wrongdoers were faking their Christianity (e.g. war criminal and born again Christian Charles Taylor) or 3. in some exceptional cases the wrongdoers turned away from the Lord, but they asked forgiveness and the Lord is taking them back. (e.g. some ex-rapist murderer is converted to be a born again Christian, after a few years rapes and murders another woman, goes to jail for several years and then finds his way back to be forgiven by Jesus again.)

  5. Well, bringing in the 'New Covenant' mutation of Christianity leads us into the morass of theological hairsplitting and denominationalism.

    While the Bible is truly the inspired word of God (i.e. everything in it is 'true') some of the stuff in there applies only to Jews and not to Christians. The hairsplitting is over which bits of the Bible do or do not apply and is one of the primary sources of denominational differences.

    Kind of a religious mix and match ... pick the bits you like, disregard the rest   ;-)

    Peripherally, on that Salem witches thing ... I assume most people have, by now, heard of the ergot hypothesis.

  6. If I ever heard of ergots, I had forgotten about them. But I am more inclined to believe that hypothesis than the witchcraft thing.

  7. Ergot has been positively linked to "witchcraft and possession" in Europe, but is still very uncertain for the New World persecutions. Like hallucinogens world-wide, ergot was used in various "pagan" rituals, so therefore "evil" in the eyes of the Christian Church. Everyone "knows" common folk can't possibly have direct access to "God", "He" must speak to the masses through holy intermediaries.

    Funny how throughout history so many of those royal, sacred or mystical intermediaries also end up wielding great social, economic and military power.

    Can't have the farmer's wife eating barley bread, then speaking in tongues and misleading the flock now can we? Can't have the local midwife/herbal healer "laying on hands" and usurping the priest's claim to sole access for applying "God's" blessings.

    I have observed various stripes of Fundamentalist Christians I know struggle mightily to square topics such as "new age" health strategies like Theraputic Touch and Reiki with the Biblical prohibitions against "witchcraft". Cognitive dissonance at its finest, would be fun to watch if it wasn't so tragic.

  8. Interesting online poll by Ipsos-Reid indicates some basic differences in attitudes to religion between Canadians and their neighbours to the south.

    In response to the question, 'Religion provides the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to thrive in the 21st century,' the following percentages agreed:

    Canada: 36%
    U.S.A.: 65%

    Hmmmm ....