Belief is not innocuous

A few months ago I wrote about the plight of Nigerian children who are accused of being witches. These kids are often beaten, abandoned, or killed because their parents or members of the community accuse them of being possessed by Satan. The problem is only getting worse, with an estimated 15,000 kids in Nigeria alone accused of being witches.

Even though there are a number of organizations working to undo the damage caused by such accusations, in truth this will continue to be an issue so long as the population remains ignorant. They believe witches are real, and no one so far has done enough to dissuade the population of this superstition. Why would they? Most of the organizations over there are missionaries, and a Christian priest trying to tell someone their beliefs are incorrect would only be faced with uncomfortable questions regarding his own superstitions. It’s the blind leading the blind.

The problem is also exacerbated by the fact no one seems willing to put their foot down and work on a campaign to abolish the belief in witchcraft:

“It is not the belief in witchcraft that we are concerned about,” Foxcroft said. “We acknowledge people’s right to hold this belief on the condition that this does not lead to child abuse.”

How can you ignore the elephant in the room here? Obviously it’s the belief that’s the problem. The intellectual lazy position that “everyone is entitled to their own beliefs” is not helping anyone here. No one lives in a bubble where their own personal beliefs won’t interact with reality. That’s obvious from the fact that thousands of kids will face persecution for the rest of their lives simply because their family believes in the childish notion of witchcraft.

If you want this kind of thing to stop, we’ll need to be serious about teaching the native population of Nigeria that their superstitions are in fact false. It may be unpopular, but if you can think of a better way to stop human beings from harming and killing one another, I’d love to hear it.

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