This post is the fifth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:
Harmful Effect #5: Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
There are a number of obvious problems with this “harmful effect”, the first of which being a lack of citation. From where does this statistic come? Is it accurate? Do the authors of this list expect readers to just take their word for it just because it is published somewhere? (I doubt they approach the biblical text this way.)
Secondly, are killings related to witchcraft always associated with Christianity or, like many other items on this list, is this a “harmful effect” of humanity in general? Contemporary use of the term “witch-hunt” usually denotes an effort by those in power to persecute dissenters and not usually for religious purposes. This type of “witch-hunt” is perhaps best demonstrated in Arthur Miller’s, “The Crucible,” which is a play set against the back drop of the Salem Witch Trials (a historical event). The “witch-hunts” in the play are clearly driven by lust, jealousy, and greed and are only nominally “Christian”. These things are anything but Christian virtues.
In parts of Africa people with albinism are regularly attacked and killed because of the superstitious belief that albinos can transmit magical powers. Albinos are murdered and their body parts are delivered to witch doctors for use in magical spells. Such action and belief is antithetical to the Christian worldview. The impact the promulgation of the Christian worldview on areas with superstitious tribal religions has probably prevented thousands of atrocities that would have been committed during acts of witchcraft. No mention is made of this on the American Atheist list.
One final notion that should not be ignored is that witches are bad. Witchcraft is evil. Where someone is guilty of witchcraft, a society is better off without him. Such a person should not be tortured, however, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for society to punish a person who calls upon demonic agents to influence others. Of course, the atheists who conjured up this list of 40 harmful effects don’t believe that a realm of demons exist. However, those of us who do recognize the very real dangers of engaging in occult activity.
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #6: People aren’t making the most of this life because of their belief in an afterlife.
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.