Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Witches of Africa

Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

Let's suppose that Bible readers have misread this ancient passage. Let's suppose the author of this book never intended that His readers should view this as a directive to seek out and murder those whom they deem to be witches.

Only, that's exactly what people have done. They've murdered innocents by the tens of thousands. It continues to this very day. The perpetrators of these bestial acts point to this passage, among others, in order to justify their behavior.

My question is; "Would not an omniscient God have known this in advance?" And knowing how this passage was going to be interpreted, would not this same benevolent God have made some minimal effort to insure that this passage would not be so interpreted? If it is, presumably, His word, He could have written anything He wished. So why? Why this horror?

"Over the 160 years from 1500 to 1660, Europe saw between 50,000 and 80,000 suspected witches executed. About 80% of those killed were women. Execution rates varied greatly by country, from a high of about 26,000 in Germany to about 10,000 in France, 1,000 in England, and only four in Ireland. The lower death tolls in England and Ireland owe in part to better procedural safeguards in those countries for defendants."


By comparison, the widespread rape and abuse of children by clergy of the modern-day Catholic Church seems like...

Like child's play?


"...religious fundamentalists and fanatics incarcerate women, mutilate genitals, amputate hands, murder, bomb and terrorise in the name of their faith. It is a mistake to think that our own milk-and-water clerics would never conceive of doing likewise; it is not long in historical terms since Christian priests were burning people at the stake if they did not believe that wine turns to blood when a priest prays over it or...whipping people and slitting their noses and ears for having sex outside marriage…" “Don’t Leave Morals to the Madmen” A.C. Grayling, The Guardian, March 22, 2000


  1. I highly recommend a recent novel set during the Salem witch trials: The Heretic's Daughter, by Kathleen Kent. The author is a tenth-generation descendant of one of the women hanged as witches. More info at http://www.kathleenkent.com.

    It captures the setting and tenor of the times perfectly.

    Jerry AA6KI

  2. Thanks Jerry,
    No, I haven't seen that. It sounds quite interesting. BTW, the Salem "witch" topic came up in a discussion recently with another ham. He mentioned finding ergot in his rye and that's where we ended up; despite the fact that ergotism as a possible factor remains a matter of debate.

    I suspect you're well acquainted with Arthur Miller's allegory, "The Crucible." An American classic, that.

    Thanks again and 73,