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Killing kids for Christ

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An African holocaust

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Freedom of religion, sure.

But freedom FROM religion too.

The Founding Fathers were equally interested in both.

Here's an example of why it's so important.




Source: "Saving Africa's Witch Children"

In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervor is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine: and branded witches.

Denounced as Satan made flesh by powerful pastors and prophetesses, these children are abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered: all in the name of Jesus Christ.

This Dispatches Special follows the work of one Englishman, 29-year-old Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to helping these desperate and vulnerable children. Gary's charity, Stepping Stones Nigeria, raises funds to help Sam Itauma, who five years ago, rescued four children accused of witchcraft. He now struggles to care for over 150 in a makeshift shelter and school in the Niger Delta region called CRARN (Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network).

Gary and Sam introduce Dispatches to some of the rescued children who have been through unimaginable horrors, such as Ekemeni, aged 13, who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and Mary, aged 14, who was burnt with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive. Other children display the hallmarks of witch-branding - acid burns and machete scars. Uma Eke, aged 17, has been left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull.

Hospitals refuse to treat children associated with sorcery, so Sam's centre does its best to provide medical aid.

Influential preachers from the more extreme churches brand the children witches or wizards and exploit their desperate parents by charging them exorbitant amounts of money in return for exorcising the spirits.

The film features extraordinary access to some of the preachers who openly discuss their work.

One preacher who calls himself 'The Bishop,' says he has made a fortune by carrying out 'deliverances' on children. He admits having killed 110 people in the past. Dispatches films him as he administers a mixture of pure alcohol, a substance known as 'African mercury' and his own blood to one child accused of witchcraft.

Exorcism is big business. Preachers can charge as much as a year's salary for an average Nigerian to treat children. They often hold the child captive until the parents can pay up. The Niger Delta area is oil rich - but very few have access to oil wealth; the average life expectancy is around 47.

Shocking and tragic, Dispatches reveals the plight of the thousands of innocent children who suffer intolerable cruelty at the hands of so-called Christian pastors. As Gary, Director of UK Charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, says:

"It's an absolute scandal. Any Christian would look at the situation that is going on here and just be absolutely outraged that they were using the teachings of Jesus Christ to exploit and abuse innocent children."

You can find out more about the work of Stepping Stones Nigeria at http://www.steppingstonesnigeria.org

Site was down the last time I checked.



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