Thursday 5 September 2013

Nigeria: Atrocious Abuse in the Church Remains a Problem

Cruel and unjust punishments
With the way we espouse religion to a fundamentalist and extremist extent, it is important to highlight elements of our association with Christianity as practiced that must be condemned in totality.
First, the case of witchcraft exorcisms where two teenagers possibly stigmatised and victimised by their community were placed in the hands of psychotic, sociopathic and sadistic church leaders who bound them and starved them for 3 days leading to the death of one.
I am at pains to find the manual of exorcism these people used to go about this bizarre activity that just demonstrates cruelty unspeakable, all in the name of God.
False teachings and devilish acts
Whilst there might be passages in the Scripture that address witchcraft, the exorcism act which is called deliverance should not constitute harmful and cruel punishments with torture techniques that one will not find in a gulag, all in the name of God.
The idea that a somewhat spiritual affliction can be fought with physical means is foolish, if not idiotic, but we are held in trawl of these fantastic and spectacular acts that leave us in dread of the supernatural from a bad perspective rather than be in awe of the miraculous, if that is what is to be expected.
Wrong treatment for a problem
Then again, in another development, a mentally-ill man was taken to a church for prayers and possible help, which that pastor suggested could be offered, all in the name of God.
Being left in the care of the pastor, by circumstance, happenstance or carelessness, the man having been prayed for and then taken for psychiatric help was left in the care of a stranger and eventually went missing.
Whilst, there is nothing to suggest the pastor is responsible for the disappearance of the man, we live in a society superstitious enough for some to assume and suggest the man has been used for macabre ritual purposes.
Shamanism taking the fore
In fact, it is strange that the parents of the man who sought the help of a man of God for their son with faith in Christian practices now begin to believe that the disappearance of their son is linked to ritualistic purposes.
Though the pastor has been released from custody, he is at best careless considering the person put in his care was vulnerable and should have been under constant supervision, for that alone, there is a case to answer though how to follow that through is not clear.
However, the greater issue here is our lack of understanding of mental health issues which we deem spiritual and usually associate with spiritism, witchcraft, and other black arts.
Understanding mental health issues
Whilst one cannot entirely contemn this long-held belief system, we need to approach mental health from a more logical, systematic and constructive perspective, employing professional psychologists and psychiatrists to analyse, diagnose and suggest ameliorating therapies.
Besides, it is important to know what the mental disability is, which could be anything from autism, through anti-social behaviours to bipolar disorders, and many other conditions that we just lump together as madness.
Some of these conditions could be environmental or even chemical imbalances that we take to churches where people are barely trained to understand what they are tackling that they resort to shamanistic rituals pretending to alleviate suffering which they are not in fact doing.
Reread, revisit, review, repudiate
In all, if we are to rely on the miraculous for problem resolution, it is only right that we go back and study the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles to appreciate and understand what they did to help people in circumstances where modern medical practice would almost equate the kinds of miracles that were wrought then.
If any of the acts involve cruelty, punishments, force or any exertion beyond voice of command, we should begin to suspect that the purveyors of such solutions have no such power to help than to violate, brutalise and abuse the vulnerable – there is no licence given in the Scriptures for abuse nor should we condone such from any who portend to have spiritual authority over us.
Let us be smart about abuse in churches and condemn such in totality, there are many horrible things done, all in the name of God.

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