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Child Sacrifice in Uganda PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

This is not a debunking. For all I know, Ugandan witch doctors really may be using the bodyparts of sacrificed children in their magical ceremonies, as has recently been claimed. But I’m skeptical.

… which is apparently a pretty rare attitude vis a vis child murders by Ugandan sorcerers. Early this morning (Friday, January 8th), the pan-African publication Newstime Africa was reporting that the Ugandan government had issued a statement condemning the “barbaric crime” of child sacrifice, and that former witch doctors were coming forward with grisly tales of child murder and black magic. Then a BBC story on the same subject began making the rounds on Twitter, and then the Telegraph’s day-old blurb entitled “Human sacrifices on the rise in Uganda as witch doctors admit to rituals” trumped them all by getting itself posted on The Drudge Report.

But really — this thing is probably a crock. Have a gander at that BBC story, and read more after the jump.

Note the evidence. One murdered child was found in the brush with his organs removed. Sick? Obviously. Witchcraft? Probably not. (At least in the U.S., most child killers, even the very weird ones, act more out of deranged psychosexual compunction than out of any impulse toward mysticism, and I can only assume the same is true in Uganda. Human nature doesn’t change much from place to place, and most folks, even atavists, will balk at killing children in the service of the spirit world. That’s why God took such a shining to Abraham: He was uniquely cuckoo.) But when another child had her throat slit a few miles away from the site of the other murder, the public reached collectively for its torch and pitchfork and set about blaming — gasp! — witches! How original! Never mind that, according to Interpol, Uganda has long suffered a murder rate of 10.25/100,000 per annum, which is worse than Kenya or Zimbabwe, and never mind that plain old regular criminality is a far better explanation for throat-slittage than magic.

According to the Beeb, two dozen children other than these unfortunates have been “ritually” killed. But this claim is made by the same authorities who apparently read ritualism into the slitting of a young girl’s throat. Why should we believe them — especially when we Westerners know, from bitter personal experience, that police can read ritualism into crimes that demand none?

In the Beeb’s report — which is surely the most comprehensive of the ones presently on offer — we are presented with three other bits of evidence. None of them are very impressive.

The first is the testimony of a plainly crazy person by the name of Polino Angela, who claims to be a former witch doctor and is personally ‘fessing up to the murder of 70 kids. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Name names and direct the authorities to the bodies. Angela’s claim — which, if true, would make him the fourth most prolific confirmed serial killer of the last century — is extraordinary, and its substantiation demands extraordinary evidence.

Polino escorts the Beeb’s reporter, Tim Whewell, to the shrine of an “especially notorious” witch doctor. Whewell says it takes some doing to “convert” him, as though the necessity of an old pagan’s conversion by a self-described child murderer is a foregone conclusion. Outnumbered and admittedly terrified of lynching, the old pagan acknowledges that his clients bring him human blood as many as three times a week to use in his rituals. That this is the blood of murder victims is never established. Whewell is content to insinuate that it is.

The final piece of evidence presented by the Beeb is the testimony of a boy who claims to have escaped death at the hands of the witch-doctors, allegedly because he was circumcised and therefore unfit for sacrifice. I feel terrible that this child had to endure whatever he endured, but I also believe it’s worth postulating that, whatever it was, it wasn’t part of a Uganda-wide conspiracy of witches to murder children for their own dark ends.

This is worth postulating because we’ve been here before, time and time again, young witnesses and all. No witch-scare to date has resulted in the confirmation of widespread diabolism. Rather, the usual result of a witch-scare is a witch-hunt — wretched affairs that, in retrospect, inevitably reveal themselves as useless and tragic miscalculations on the parts of the frightened and gullible. Developed nations are not immune. Why should the BBC and Telegraph assume Uganda is any different? And why should they lend credence to these wild claims without doing due diligence — without bothering to ask, for example, whose children have gone missing, and under what circumstances? Until more evidence is presented, it would appear that these news organs have reported on crimes that are, as of yet, still seeking their victims. I predict that when suitable victims are found, they will not be children, but the old, unpopular, infirm, and weak. Stay tuned.

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the JREF is FINISHED, Lowly rated comment [Show]
I agree
written by TheIrreverend, January 08, 2010
Frankly, you're probably right, but possibly not.

I grew up in Uganda (my parents were missionaries trying to "save the heathens") and I can assure you that this kind of thing is quite uncommon. Most of Uganda is either Christian or Muslim with very few animistic areas left. Of course, none of that assures that some crazy person didn't actually do this; in every culture there are people on the fringe who do all kinds of crazy and terrible things.

Also . . . can someone do something about the crazy and terrible person who posted the first comment on here? I'm so sick of reading it.
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I agree with the agreement
written by houdin654jeff, January 08, 2010
While it is entirely possible that witch-doctors are kidnapping and murdering children, evidence is still a necessary thing. It may be the work of crazy people, but it may very well be the work of witch doctors (REALLY crazy people). The point is, we can't be sure either way. All we can do until some more concrete facts are known is sit around, look at what facts are available and hypothesize (or guess). I'm going with the basic variety of crazy until something more substantial is discovered.

Also...I just keep voting it down and it eventually disappears when enough votes against it show up, but can't the site administrators just ban them? Everyone is entitle to an opinion, but this is an almost nonsensical attack. What good is it doing? Anyone's beliefs ever been shaken by an internet post by some random dude? Just curious.
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written by rvitelli, January 09, 2010
It's good to be cautious. However, we know that albinos are being killed in other parts of Africa so that their body parts can be used in ceremonial medicine. We also know that children are being accused and killed for being suspected witches as well. Ritual killing of children doesn't seem that implausible somehow.
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CEO
written by randi, January 09, 2010
The woo-woos certainly have a way of showing their fear of rationality. The first poster - above - is well known to us as a frustrated, vindictive, and frightened man who flails out wildly in all directions trying to annoy us. He has multiple assumed identities - "equalizerking" is only one of many juvenile titles he takes - many different Internet names and accounts, and he tries to give the impression that these pseudo-persons are part of a vast group of atheist-haters. In fact, hate is his central theme and drive, somewhat clashing with the advertised Christian "love" claim. We let this "king" rave on, which may serve to prevent him from more violent activities. So, smile tolerantly and move ahead when the "king" shouts. The ONE thing he can't stand, is being ignored...!
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written by vino, January 09, 2010
"Why should the BBC and Telegraph assume Uganda is any different? And why should they lend credence to these wild claims without doing due diligence — without bothering to ask, for example, whose children have gone missing, and under what circumstances?"

May I ask, "Since when does the media bother to research a story?" Their forte is printing attention grabbing headlines to sell papers (and ad space).
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written by Tanydon, January 09, 2010
I heard the broadcast live on the BBC R4 program and I too was a bit sceptical about the evidence provided by the man who claimed to deal in child body parts. He seemed a little bit short on providing any evidence that could be checked, although that doesn't mean he was lying, it just means the jury is still out.
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Extraoedinary Claims requite extraordinary evidence.
written by Skeptic, January 09, 2010
Is it POSSIBLE that this is ritual child murder? Yes. It is LIKELY? Probably not, although one never knows. But is it PROVEN to be ritual child murder? Heck no. The evidence for that just weak. If human nature is any guide, by the way, it will turn out the "guilty" are, by a curious coincidence, social or religious outcasts of some sort, much like Jews or the insane were accused of similar crimes.
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written by JWideman, January 09, 2010
Well, let's see... either kids are being sacrificed in some occult ritual by a boogeyman, or they are being killed for jollies by someone who is not so easy to spot. It's easy to see why the boogeyman option is preferred.
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written by Rustylizard, January 09, 2010
@CEO
“The ONE thing he can't stand, is being ignored...!” I agree. After reading his posts the first couple of times, I now skip past them, not even bothering to register a negative vote. It serves a purpose not to delete his ravings, though. It provides new viewers with some amusing insight into the mind of a specimen cracked-pot.
smilies/smiley.gif
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written by MadScientist, January 09, 2010
You mean it's similar to the widespread claims of the catholic church that there really are satanic cults out there that sacrifice animals and children? Or the claims of some christian preachers that all homosexuals are pedophiles?

The problem with the story is that it really is very believable (even if other incidental claims don't make much sense). Decades ago in another part of the world I've seen boiled babies thanks to witch doctors pouring boiling water on crying children in order to drive away the evil spirits that make them cry so much. So it's easy for me to imagine a society where people care so little about others outside their group that they'd be willing to kill others' children to save one of their own. I don't know anything about Uganda, so all I can say is we need more information.
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written by popsaw, January 09, 2010
It is wrong to use the story of Abraham and Isaac to iply that God condones child sacrifice.
Isaac was a man, not a child. He complied with his father despite the fact that he could have overpowered him. It was a test of Abrahams faith, nobody was forced
into anything and refusal was an option.
Abraham reckoned that God was able to resurrect Isaac.
Hebrews 11:17-19 (King James Version)reads...
17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Gods condemnation of child sacrifice is recorded in Jeremiah 32:35 (New International Version)
35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters [a] to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
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written by CW, January 09, 2010
"It is wrong to use the story of Abraham and Isaac to iply that God condones child sacrifice."

But that is precisely what God asked Abraham to do. To sacrifice his only son (a son that came to Abraham and Rebekkah as a miracle - very late in their life, if I recall). I think it was more than a "test of faith" because if God is all-knowing then he should have already known Abraham was very faithful. To me, the point of the story (in my opinion) was for God to make Abraham aware of his faith to God. Once Abraham saw what he was willing to do for God, he would be purged of all doubts - and ready to completely serve God.

I believe Randi (or perhaps others) have described various cult leaders doing a similar action with followers - a type of brainwashing/conditioning of their devotion?
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CW
written by popsaw, January 09, 2010
Two critical points you are missing here...
1)Isaac was not a child and 2)he went willingly. Neither father nor child were forced. Either could have refused.
The Abraham Isaac account is irrelevant in an article condemning child sacrifice, a practice where the child has no choice and a practice which (as I have shown) is condemned in the bible.
It is also worth remembering that no death/sacrifice actually occured. No small point that!
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written by Tim Farley, January 09, 2010
Brandon, I'm not sure I share your complete skepticism of this story. Yes, the reportage in this particular case may have issues and that is certainly worthy of criticism.

But in my research for my site What's The Harm, I've found that cases of retribution against alleged witches or witch doctors occur with alarming frequency in both Africa and parts of India.

Yes, of course these are not really witches. Yes, in some cases the underlying cause is actually family disputes, jealousy, a plot to confiscate property and so on. However many of these cases involve mob violence that would not be possible if there were not a widespread belief in witchcraft in that culture. And indeed, there are people who claim to actually be practicing witchcraft, and other people who believe in what they are doing, in many countries around the world.

These are not just sketchy reports from remote areas. In some cases there is detailed evidence including video. See here: http://dreadnaught.wordpress.c...-murdered/

The Center for Inquiry has noted this problem and launched a program of education in several African countries to help people realize that witchcraft is not real. You can read about that here: http://www.csicop.org/speciala..._cfi_kenya Other skeptic organizations, particularly in India, have similar public education programs.

It is very easy to see some parallels here between the "Satanic ritual abuse" scares of the 1980s in the US. I am well aware of that issue, I have a page on it on my site too.

However it is important to remember that mass delusions like this are a *cultural* artifact, a product of society. It is naive at best to try to map a delusion that occurred in one country onto a completely different culture in a different decade. Uganda is a very different place than the US in the 1980s. There are certainly elements of mass delusion going on here, but it is a delusion of a distinctly different kind.

Bottom line: please don't encourage people to minimize the danger inherent in believing witchcraft is real, solely on the back of a sloppily written BBC story. This belief really is still widespread in many parts of the world, and is very very dangerous.
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written by Willy K, January 09, 2010
Michael Shermer said "The guy with the craziest story wins."

Incompetent and unprofessional news media "reporters" want crazy stories, it usually means they get more air time.

Narcissistic pathological liars crave attention. Having their face and voice broadcast to the world is the ultimate turn-on for them. They'll say whatever the aforementioned "reporters" want to hear and they will gladly exaggerate "till the cows come home!"
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written by Willy K, January 09, 2010
To the folks at the far left of the bell curve "discussing" the meaning of a mythological deity telling/asking a person to kill their son... Your naivety is breathtaking...

This passage is written to prepare and encourage dim-wits to do everything a Human tyrant, whomever and whenever he appears, tells them to do. It "praises" people who are willing to sacrifice anything, even their own flesh and blood, to the gain favor with the latest tyrant.

If dim-witted folks would drop their delusions of supernatural beings for a while, they might come to realize how they have been manipulated by every con-artist who spots them. smilies/cry.gif
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@Tim Farley
written by bkthorp, January 09, 2010
Yo! Thanks for reading. I hope you're well.

We are well aware of the widespread belief in witchcraft in sub-Saharan Africa. (Check out my previous story on the subject, which not only includes the video you link to, but by some kooky coincidence happens to be named in honor of your website: http://www.randi.org/site/inde...ition.html)

My point isn't that people in Uganda don't believe in witchcraft, or that there aren't self-proclaimed witches there. My point is that witches are probably not engaged in a Uganda-wide conspiracy to kill innocent children, and that fear of witches is vastly more dangerous than witchcraft itself.

- BKT



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written by Moss, January 09, 2010
Can we really disprove that the framework the killer's mind works with isn't involving his belief in the efficacy of body parts as magical or medical tool? If the belief in witches is common in the populace I'm not sure we can rule out that the killer may have the same magical thinking.
Bodyparts as a form of treatment or magical tool have left European thinking only rather recently, else we sure would have more Egyptian mummies than we have now. Or that the bodyparts of executed criminals are potent ingredients for cures and curses.
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@ Willy K,, Lowly rated comment [Show]
@popsaw
written by Willy K, January 09, 2010
There are many skeptics and renowned scientists that believe the bible.
Yeah, fool yourself with the “argument by authority” logical fallacy, not me.

Is it necessary to resort to insult just...
You mean using the term dim-wit? Okay, you got me there, I should have said “people of low intelligence.”
...because you do not believe the bible?
“Believe” in the bible? It was written by Humans, I believe that. There is no evidence that it wasn't and the evidence that is was is overwhelming. No opinion needed.

You (I gather) and billions of people are under the delusion that supernatural beings exist and interact with the Universe. Not a drop of evidence to support that. The “beliefs” of any Human does not alter the Universe.

You might even realize, deep down inside yourself, even under the most appealing of delusions, that in all of Human history, that tyrants, large and small, have invoked supernaturals forces to bend the will of others. The “story” of Abraham is simply a way to prepare the naive for the next tyrant who needs an army of willing participants. It's happened time and time again. It's happening in Uganda.

The main point of my posts...
You brought up the subject comparing a Human behavior with a mythical account of a supernatural being. I think it's a dangerous and harmful thing for the survival of the Human race to invoke non-existent supernatural explanations to a Human behavior.
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written by jhuger, January 09, 2010
@equalizerking:

Tell you what, you get 98% of all the religious folks on the planet to agree on some point of theology and I'll take your argument seriously. Personally, I doubt you can get even half of them to agree on gods' names.
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Keeping the record straight...
written by Ted Powell, January 09, 2010
Isaac was not a child

In Genesis 22:5 Abraham, speaking to his "young men"/servants refers to Isaac as (KJV) "the lad" or (NIV) "the boy." Sounds pretty juvenile to me.
NB: I'm not commenting on what did or did not happen back when, just on what's written in (translations of) the book that was being appealed to.
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written by popsaw, January 09, 2010
He was a 25 year old 'boy'.
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written by The SonicGamer, January 09, 2010
@Popsaw
Ignoring that most people on this site know why most of the things you said were wrong, like how by the time of Columbus, it was old news that the Earth was round, Isaac Newton was a dimwit, in a sense. He believed in Alchemy and the Philosophers stone. He lived in the 17th century! But, I'm sure that if he had lived to see the Theory of Evolution take hold, and see all the evidence for it, he would have accepted it. Still, the thoughts of older scientists have no bearings on the evidence we have NOW.
So yes, Religion is still questionable.
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@The Sonic Gamer, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Ted Powell, January 09, 2010
He was a 25 year old 'boy'.

Chapter and verse, please. And Antiquities I, 13, 2 doesn't count.
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easy peasy
written by markbellis, January 09, 2010
The bible's cosmology is hardly scientific accurate - see http://www.talkorigins.org/faq...bible.html for a chapter and verse refutation.
This child sacrifice story takes me think of the cattle mutilation and child abduction panics theories of a few years back in North America. Short on facts and long on speculation1
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Godly inspiration
written by Ted Powell, January 09, 2010
Many centuries before the time of Columbus and Magellan, Eratosthenes of Cyrene had calculated the circumference of the Earth and the tilt of its axis quite accurately, and the distance from the Earth to the Sun (less so)—and more.
In contrast, we have the cited examples of godly inspiration.
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Then there was Jephthah and Josiah...
written by Alencon, January 09, 2010
@popsaw

Well, if you want to argue that Abraham and Isaac wasn't a case of child sacrifics, what do you have to say about Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 11?

The bible was written in a cultural context that most people, including myself, have absolutely no conception of. Even supposed experts can only have a vague understanding of a culture several millenniums in the past. Consider 2 Kings 23:10 from the NIV.

“He (King Josiah) desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.”

Seems fairly straight forward right? The most common interpretation is King Josiah destroys a pagan altar to prevent it being used for the burning of children as a sacrifice to the pagan god Molech.

Perhaps that’s correct, but there are a few problems with that interpretation. The first is that the Hebrew text doesn’t actually say “sacrifice.” It says “pass through the fire.” The NIV is interpreting that to mean “sacrifice.” Others have suggested that it might actually mean having children pass through two lines of fire as a sort of consecration ceremony. Dangerous perhaps, but not intended to be fatal.

The other problem is the word “Molech” itself. While traditionally interpreted as the name of a god, what you actually get in the Hebrew are just the consonants "mlk" which in other places are interpreted to mean “Melek” or king. This is a term which can apply to Yahweh himself.

So what did King Josiah put an end to? A, perhaps dangerous, consecration ceremony to a foreign god called Molech, a, perhaps dangerous, consecration ceremony to the Hebrew god Yahweh, the sacrificing of children to a foreign god called Molech, the sacrificing of children to the Hebrew god Yahweh or something totally different that no one has identified yet?

I’m not going down this road because my opinion is utterly meaningless. Whatever the practice was it is clearly identified as an “abomination unto HaShem” (Jewish Bible Devarim 18:10) or a “detestable practice” (NIV Deuteronomy 18:10).

But without the cultural context it’s not all that easy to say exactly what’s being described nor exactly why Josiah felt extreme measures were justified.
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Heroic eisegeses...
written by Alencon, January 09, 2010
@ popsaw again

Please give me a break. First of all why not provide the entire quote for Isaiah 40:22?

Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

First of all circular is not the same thing as spherical. You're missing a dimension there. Circular is still flat. Also consider the idea of the heavens being like a "canopy." This precisely matches the description of the world as a flat circular disc with the blue canopy of the sky. It's also precisely what one sees from the earth.

You are reading into this passage something that isn't there based upon your own knowledge. That's called "eisegeses." Your reading into this text something that isn't there is so extreme, I consider it "heroic eisegeses."

If there is a god, he (she?, it?) must spend a tremendous amount of time face palming himself at the absurd pronouncements of theists.
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written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
Ted Powell wrote
Many centuries before the time of Columbus and Magellan, Eratosthenes of Cyrene had calculated the circumference of the Earth and the tilt of its axis quite accurately, and the distance from the Earth to the Sun (less so)—and more.
Eratosthenes was Born: 276 BC
Job 26:27 (earth hanging upon nothing)was written around 1470 BC.
Isaiah 40:22 was written (Circle of the Earth) around 732 BC. The Hebrew word chughtranslated “circle,” may also be rendered “sphere.” (A Concordance of the Hebrew and Chaldee Scriptures, by B. Davidson)

A respone to Alencons many points will follow later.
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Response to Alncon
written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
Did Jephthah have in mind human sacrifice when he vowed to present as a burnt offering the first one coming out of his house?
Some critics and scholars have condemned Jephthah for his vow, having the view that Jephthah followed the practice of other nations, offering up his daughter by fire as a human burnt offering. But this is not the case. It would be an insult to God, and a violation of his law, to make a literal human sacrifice. He strictly commanded Israel: Deuteronomy 18:9-12 (New International Version)
9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [a] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. God would curse, not bless, such a person. The very ones Jephthah was fighting, the Ammonites, practiced human sacrifice to their god Molech.—Compare 2Ki 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; Jer 7:31, 32; 19:5, 6.
When Jephthah said: “It must also occur that the one coming out, who comes out of the doors of my house to meet me . . . must also become God's,” he had reference to a person and not an animal, since animals suitable for sacrifice were not likely kept in Israelite homes, to have free run there. Besides, the offering of an animal would not show extraordinary devotion to God. Jephthah knew that it might well be his daughter who would come out to meet him. How, then, would the person coming out to meet Jephthah to congratulate him on his victory “become Gods’s” and be offered up “as a burnt offering”?—Jg 11:31.
A response to your other points will follow.
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@Alencon
written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
Please give me a break. First of all why not provide the entire quote for Isaiah 40:22?
I quoted the relevant portion only.
The Hebrew word chugh translated “circle,” may also be rendered “sphere.”
The heavens, both the expanse of atmosphere by day and the starry heavens by night, have the appearance of an immense domed canopy from the standpoint of humans on earth. At Isaiah 40:22 the simile is that of stretching out “fine gauze,” rather than the coarser tent cloth.
The ancient Greeks believed the earth to be a flat disk (not reference of circular) floating on the river of Ocean, not hanging upon nothing as Job 26:7 says.
All his shows that the bible is correct since the ear IS a circle hanging upon nothing,even if you leave out the spherical aspect. This was all way before scientists discovered this for themselves and certainly against current thinking.
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' popsaw
written by Dooyoowoowoo, January 10, 2010
Just where exactly do you derive your dates for the biblical pronouncments on astronomy?
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@Popsaw
written by CasaRojo, January 10, 2010
"The main point of my posts however were not to debate the veracity of the Abraham /Isaac account but rather to point out that it was not a case of child sacrifice,as implied by the article."

I find it a reasonable inference that since "god" asked for a child sacrifice that god endorses/endorsed child sacrifices, at least on some occasions, whether he actually had Abraham carry it out or not. Nevertheless, I would prefer a god that didn't ask for such things for any reason. IOW, gods are far too human for me.

OT- I thought the same thing when I read about the child sacrifices in Uganda. Made me wonder if it wasn't trumped up as a good reason to kill "witches". People lie. People lie a lot. Perhaps it is true though. Perhaps this and other atrocities are simply going to be the rule until ALL peoples are better educated. And by educated, I don't mean missionaried to another fantastical religion.

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@Casarojo
written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
I find it a reasonable inference that since "god" asked for a child sacrifice that god endorses/endorsed child sacrifices, at least on some occasions, whether he actually had Abraham carry it out or not. Nevertheless, I would prefer a god that didn't ask for such things for any reason. IOW, gods are far too human for me.

There is no account of God asking for or endorsing child sacrifice in the bible. It is condemned in scripture as I have pointed out previously.Isaac was 25 years old when he willingly complied to be sacrificed.
Regarding better education. The simple mandate in the 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matt 7:12) of treating others how you wish to be treated would put an end to most human conflict.
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@Popsaw
written by CasaRojo, January 10, 2010
"There is no account of God asking for or endorsing child sacrifice in the bible."

God: "Abe. Kill Issac 'cause I say so."

"regarding better education. The simple mandate in the 'Sermon on the Mount' (Matt 7:12) of treating others how you wish to be treated would put an end to most human conflict."

So if I want someone to torture me it's OK if I torture others. Got it.
There are noble messages in the bible. And there's a lot of very crazy ^#&$ too. Are you a fundy, pops? And I don't mean to offend by the term 'fundy'.
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@CasaRojo
written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
Isac was NOT a child and he was not sacrificed. He was however willing to be sacrificed. It is incorrect to draw a parallel with that account and the above article where the victims are unwilling children. Sacrifice is not wrong in itself. It is the sacrifice of unwilling children that is wrong.
If universally applied, Jesus words in Matt 7:12 would result in global peace. You said... Perhaps this and other atrocities are simply going to be the rule until ALL peoples are better educated.What better education than the Sermon on the Mount is there?

I do not consider myself a fundamentalist. I am one of may skeptics that believe in intelligent design and the bible.
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written by CasaRojo, January 10, 2010
" Isac was NOT a child and he was not sacrificed."

He was a child of Abraham. Nevertheless, he was a person and I'm not interested in a god that asks for human sacrifice. For any reason.

"It is the sacrifice of unwilling children that is wrong. "

Gads! It's ok to kill children that are willing to be killed. Got it.

"What better education than the Sermon on the Mount is there?"

There's plenty. I'm running out the door as I type this so perhaps someone else will pick this up. If not, I will in day or so.

"I am one of may skeptics that believe in intelligent design and the bible."

You believe the bible is literally true? You're skeptical of what?




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@Casarajo
written by popsaw, January 10, 2010
I am sure you are aware that the article is referring to juvenille unwilling children and not children of parents, of which we all are. That you are not interested in a God that asks (he asked once but did not take as a test)for human sacrifice is fine but my point stands that the (Isaac) account was not an acceptable parallel in the context of the article.

I have not said it is acceptable to kill children that are willing to be killed, neither have I said that it is not. That is a matter for individuas who own themselves and have that right. God simply has never asked for a (juvenlle) child to be sacrificed and condemns the practice in the bible.

I believe the bible is both literal and symbolic, depending on the context.
I am skeptical of homeopathy,alternative medicine,astrology, Psychics,evolution and much more
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written by ClareZ, January 10, 2010
between arguing irrelevant and made up (by the original authors) bible verses and trolls acting like spoiled children, this is getting tedious.

Two things come to mind - if the story is true, then it comes under the 'what's the harm" umbrella as far as believing in silliness. However, although it is not beyond the scope of possibility, it does not ring true. It sound more like the 4th grade gossip mentality that 'news reporting' has sunk to in most venues. I do hope someone seeks out the facts. This could create another level of witch hunt where none existed. Irresponsible to say the least.
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written by The SonicGamer, January 10, 2010
@Popsaw
Seriously? Skeptical of physics AND Evolution? You are a poor skeptic.
A skeptic doesnt just take the less chosen side and stick ti his guns, a skeptic questions claims until evidence is shown. Everyone here, including Randi, would accept the existence of God or Gods if they made themselves known. If Jesus himself came down to Earth, said to Randi, "hey, I'm Jesus. Wanna see this water turn to wine?" and did it for him, multiple times, then Randi would have to accept his divinity because its evident! (With enough documentation, witnesses, ect)
You, popsaw, look at Evolution and say "Hmm, nope, thats stupid."
Theres evidence. LOADS of evidence. What parts of Evolution are you skeptic about? Me or any of them people on this site will show you the evidence, or you can go become a Biologist, look at the fossils yourself, actually DO some scientific research, instead of just sitting around crapping on the work of thousands of scientists in the last 150 years, "Oh, Evolution is bullshit, where are the transitional fossils?" We HAVE the damn fossils!
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Nope, it means circle...
written by Alencon, January 10, 2010
@popsaw

I'm sorry but the Hebrew transliteration is "chug" (phonetic = "khoog) and both Strongs and the NAS Concordance translate it as circle or circuit. The Hebrew word for sphere of ball is "duwr" which Isaiah uses in Isaiah 22:18 "He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country."

So Isaiah clearly knew the difference between a sphere and a circle. Nope, Isaiah 40:22 doesn't hold water as a description of the earth as a sphere.
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@popsaw
written by Dooyoowoowoo, January 11, 2010
I'll have another go.
Just where exactly do you derive your dates for the biblical pronouncments on astronomy? What corroberating evidence do you offer that the "scientific" information in the bible was written (or discovered) at the times you indicate?
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@Dooyoowoowoo,
written by popsaw, January 11, 2010
Your question is rather off topic (like so many of the others)and it is not my intention to debate the historicity of the bible so I will say that my dates derive from the book of Job (around 1473) and the book of Isaiah ( around 732 BC).
I will reiterate that my main point (in my first post) is that the bible does not condone child sacrifice. I will respond to any opposing views on this point.
Isaac was not a child
Jewish tradition, recorded by Josephus, says that Isaac was 25 years old at the time. At any rate, he was old enough and strong enough to carry a considerable quantity of wood up a mountain. So, he could have resisted his 125-year-old father when the time came to bind him if he had chosen to be rebellious against Gods commandments.
God’s law to Israel prescribed the death penalty for anyone, even an alien resident, who would give his offspring to Molech. (Le 20:2-5)
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"You shall also say to the sons of Israel: 'Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
Gods condemnation of child sacrifice is recorded in Jeremiah 32:35 (New International Version)
35 They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters [a] to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
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@Alencon
written by popsaw, January 11, 2010
The Hebrew language had no specific term for sphere

Duwr is not exclusively a word for sphere.
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Just a thought on "Skepticism and evolution and physics"
written by MJG, January 11, 2010
Nothing wrong with being "skeptical" about evolution. I too am "skeptical" of evolution. That is, I apply a standard to claims made in the realm of evolution requiring evidence, logic, consistency, testable claims, etc. Just as I do towards creationism, intelligent design, ghosts, religion, bigfoot, and leprechauns. The difference is that looked at rationally and objectively, the idea evolution by natural selection convincingly and overwhelmingly meets those standards, while those others I have mentioned do not.
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Another tour de force of self delusion
written by Karmakaze, January 11, 2010
It seems the skeptics around here really ARE simply contrarians. Somehow, this author feels that because "magic" can't possibly exist that ritual murders etc also can't exist if they are attributed to "witches"!

Let's see how this "skeptic's" mind works:

"Sick? Obviously. Witchcraft? Probably not. (At least in the U.S., most child killers, even the very weird ones, act more out of deranged psychosexual compunction than out of any impulse toward mysticism, and I can only assume the same is true in Uganda."

That's YOUR evidence? The US is hung up on sexuality so Uganda must be too?

"Human nature doesn’t change much from place to place"

It doesn't? Really? So the US culture is basically everyone's culture? For example everyone in Africa thinks beauty is about being blonde and skinny and silicon enhanced? They couldn't possibly have different motivations than you, right?

A reasonable person would say "murder is human nature... the way it is done, and why, is not".

"and most folks, even atavists, will balk at killing children in the service of the spirit world"

Most... MOST... Seriosuly, you just contradicted yourself. Most folks might balk at killing in the "service of the spirit world", but that is not ALL folks. Some folk MIGHT do it. And This article seems to suggest they are doing it more frequently.

Funnily enough I believe my culture has a difference from the US culture in that we use our memories, rather than approaching each new issue like it's a CNN newsbite with no memory of previous issues or our reaction to them.

For example not long ago this site was moaning about the rise of people being killed as witches... isn't that essentially the same thing? Religious beliefs leading to murder? Are witches burned at the stake not a "ritual killing"? If one lot believe enough to kill the other, why do you assume the other isn't also capable of killing because of their beliefs?

What we see in the BBC article are people claiming to have done it (frequently) and yet this guy with his US-centric view simply refuses to accept their confessions because his own beliefs and experiences are not the same as theirs, so theirs couldn't possibly be true!

"Why should we believe them — especially when we Westerners know, from bitter personal experience"

Oh, I don't know, perhaps because people are also saying they have DONE it themselves? One guy claimed to have sacrificed 70 children, including his own son. Is ritual murder in the US unheard of? What about the animals that murder gay men because the murderer's beliefs consider them an abomination? Abortion docotrs? Religion leading to murder is rather common in the US!

"The first is the testimony of a plainly crazy person by the name of Polino Angela"

Oh I see. As usual the "skeptic" assumes mental disability because the "skeptic" can't understand the motivations...

"who claims to be a former witch doctor and is personally ‘fessing up to the murder of 70 kids. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Name names and direct the authorities to the bodies."

How do you know he hasn't? In fact in the article it was said one was his own son, so he must have named at least one, right? You simply jump to a conclusion based on a lack of evidence. That is the kind of thing I have been pointing out here, and I see it in just about every "skeptic" article here!

Next this author is not even willing to accept the testimony of a child who survived an attack and lead police to his attackers! Remember how he just said why aren't "Names named"? Well it seems even that isn't good enough! No, this "skeptic" has decided it CAN'T be happening, so anyone who says it is is "plainly crazy"... even a little boy whose penis was cut off...

"And why should they lend credence to these wild claims without doing due diligence — without bothering to ask, for example, whose children have gone missing, and under what circumstances?"

The author just TOLD you the BBC did exactly that! Remember the boy? This guy can't even remember what he wrote a few lines before! The article also includes interviews with police and government ministers. All of that is seemingly NOT due diligence because the BBC dared to suggest this may actually be happening!

"Until more evidence is presented, it would appear that these news organs have reported on crimes that are, as of yet, still seeking their victims."

Only if you, as this author did, write off the testimony of one of the victims... the boy!

See what I mean about these "skeptics"? There is NOTHING truly skeptical about this article. It is simply a denial of the possibility of child ritual sacrifice (even though humanity has a long history of exactly that - Abraham wasn't the only one!) regardless of the evidence.

This guy doesn't want more evidence, his mind is made up with the same certainty of any "witch doctor" that his belief is TRUE, and no amount of evidence will change it.
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written by The SonicGamer, January 11, 2010
@MJG
You're right, actually, you worded it better then me. Popsaw seems to just ignore the evidence.
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written by shawntr, January 11, 2010
It seems to me from my limited knowledge of this subject that
There are supposedly practicing "witches" in Africa.
They supposedly murder albinos.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/29/10000-albinos-in-hiding-a_n_372976.html
Maybe they murder children (Brandon's article)
This fuels the African Christian belief in witches and witchcraft as a source of evil.
Then they attack suspected witches and children.
Both sides would be under the false belief that there is a specific power to witchcraft other than delusion, false cause or trickery.
Is this the correct interpretaion?
----
By the way, the story of Jepthah is very similar to the story of Agamemnon and Iphigenia. I suppose you could say the death of Christ would be a child sacrifice is Jesus is considered the son of God-- although he lays down his life on his own accord, and then is ressurrected.
smilies/shocked.gif
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@ shawntr
written by popsaw, January 11, 2010

By the way, the story of Jepthah is very similar to the story of Agamemnon and Iphigenia. I suppose you could say the death of Christ would be a child sacrifice is Jesus is considered the son of God-- although he lays down his life on his own accord, and then is ressurrected.
smilies/shocked.gif

Jesus was a complicit adult and not a child in the context of the article (Child Sacrifice in Uganda).
Skepticism is supposed to be a search for truth, not a twisting of facts to suit an agenda, the agenda in this case being that of a clumsy attempt to portray the God of the bible as condoning child sacrifice.
Self sacrifice is not immoral therefore there is n moral dilemma with the adult Jesus' sacrifice.
There are no biblical examples of God condoning infant child sacrifice.
If as you say Christ would be a child sacrifice is Jesus is considered the son of Godthen what is your actual position? Since we are all sons/daughters children in the context you employ,it would follow that it would be wrong for any person ever sacrifice their lives to save another person or for any other reason.
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@popsaw
written by Dooyoowoowoo, January 12, 2010
Twisting facts? That's a bit rich from someone who is ignoring facts.
I asked for information re. the dates you quoted and corroberating evidence. You replied with the same tired creationist timeline,ignoring proper research done on the bible and failing big time with evidence (self referenced evidence does not count).
Here's an excellent potted history of who wrote what, you are not even close.
Off topic? No, you used this to prop up your argument.
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@popsaw
written by Dooyoowoowoo, January 12, 2010
missed the link off
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1985/who-wrote-the-bible-part-1
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written by Sarah TX, January 12, 2010
Thank you Brandon!

I had a very similar response to this story, and my skepticism seemed very unpopular. The Child mortality rate in Uganda is something like 140 in 1000, and yet the Christian organizations want to focus on a witch hunt? While in Nigeria their "brothers and sisters in Christ" are whipping up anti-witch hysteria and publicly murdering children that "look like witches"???

It's madness.
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written by Idle, January 12, 2010
It's always good to be skeptical, but the tone of this post seems to imply that we should dismiss the claims. I know this stuff is happening in other countries in the area (theres videos and other sources too), so its not so far fetched that its happening in Uganda either (or at least escalating to child sacrifice). I think it merits investigation.

As for the assertion that it brings on a witch-hunt, I would agree. The difference is that we know about this, and we aren't driven by the mysticism, so we can investigate this properly. We don't need to imprison or murder people as an automatic trial. We have a standard of evidence before any actions can be taken towards an individual, even ( at least in western countries ) further investigation in their property.
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Popsaw -- You may be right in correcting me
written by shawntr, January 12, 2010
I was trying to sort out the Biblical narrative. Supposedly the story in which Abraham would sacrifice Isaac but God sends him a lamb is the forshadowing of Christ -- God sends a lamb (Christ) to be sacrificed rather than have us sacrifice children or anything else like animals. The people who accept the sacrifice have made the ritual atonment for sin.
I am not sure what my position is.
It is correct that Christ was an adult. The only definition for child he would fit in would be the son, or child, or offspring, of God. Part of my confusion would be here: In the texts
Does God actually give his son so that people who believe in him would have eternal life?
Does the son actually lay down his life on his own accord?
Do the father and the son dwell within each other? Then can one give the other for sacrifice without sacrificing himself?
If the father gives his son to the world for ritual sacrifice -- is this the best way to resolve sin.
And could it be a child sacrifice since the Christ is supposed to be the child of God or is the crucifixon a ritual suicide?
You might have corrected me, but if you could give me your take on these questions, it might clarify things for me since I see similarities based on some texts in the books.
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@shawntr
written by popsaw, January 12, 2010
Does God actually give his son so that people who believe in him would have eternal life?
Not just believing but exercising faith and all that goes with it, for example evangelizing. Matt24:14

Does the son actually lay down his life on his own accord?
Here Jesus explains the motivation for his willing sacrifice ...
John 15:12-13 (New International Version)
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.


Do the father and the son dwell within each other? Then can one give the other for sacrifice without sacrificing himself?
The Trinity is not a biblical teaching and has pagan origins.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica says: “Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord’ (Deut. 6:4). . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.”—(1976), Micropædia, Vol. X, p. 126.

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Popsaw
written by shawntr, January 12, 2010
Thank you for responding.You seem to be repeating the Bible verse I am using but have not cited. Good for you in being more thorough than me. My quote about the father and the son being within each other is from John 14:11
I remembered when I heard the audiobook of Dawkins' "The God Delusion" he and his wife Lalla Ward brought up a sequence of questions that they asked rhetorically about the nature of Christ and why it sounded confusing. They did a service by listing the questions, similar to mine althoug, but failed to attempt to give appropriate answers from what I remember. They did this for the sake of rhetoric.
I am of the opinion that some theologian or another has answered these but I don't know where to look.
Although Christ was not considered a child in the sense of the word "minor", which is what is going on in Africa, he would be a "child" in the sense of offspring, as we are the child of our parents.
I am not of the opinion that the death of Christ would be a "child sacrifice" or "ritual suicide" but if I were to pick one verse and base my argument solely on that, I could justify the terminology. Of course, taking a verse apart from the context of a whole is disingenuous.
---
It was a mistake for me to put two completely separate ideas in my first post. I would really like an explanation if my take in the situation in Africa is correct.
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Idle, Shawntr, Karmakaze, etc.
written by bkthorp, January 13, 2010
To clarify:

I'm not suggesting that certain Ugandans don't murder their children, just like certain Germans and Brazilians and Minnesotans. Nor am I denying that some of them might do it "ritually."

But if Ugandans are ritually murdering their kids in the service of magic, then neither the Beeb nor any news organ with which I'm familiar has adequately made the case. Let's be clear on that: The claim with which I am taking issue is that, across Uganda, a network of witches is killing children. I am not talking about a lone psychopath. I am talking about a semi-organized network of child-killing sorcerers.

I doubt the existence of such a cabal because the evidence so far presented in the media is very similar too, though actually less convincing than, the evidence supporting identical claims made in the USA during our recent "Satanic Panic." If you'd like a side-by-side comparison of the cases, check out Jerry Johnston's At The Edge of Evil: The Rise of Satanism In North America or Bob Larson's Satanism: The Seduction of America's Youth. See what these evangelists had to say about witches and child sacrifice, and then take a gander at what's being said in Uganda. They're the same claims, made in the same tone of voice, supported by the same kinds of evidence.

Pick any witchcraft scare in the whole grim history of witchcraft scares, and see how its accusations wore over time. Karmakaze, if I sound like I'm dismissing this claim based on too little evidence, please refer to that record. No society has ever been plagued by an epidemic of child-killing cultists. There have only been epidemics of accusations, which are trotted out whenever there needs be someone to hate. The Jews were accused, and pogroms shortly followed. "Witches" were accused, and were burned or hanged by the thousands. The fear of witchcraft is always more dangerous than witchcraft itself.

Of course, this could be the exception. But before deciding for sure, please view to the video linked to in the earlier comment by Tim Farley. If that video teaches us anything, it's that to presume the guilt of an accused sorcerer is to tacitly endorse crimes worse than those of any witch, real or imagined.
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P.S.
written by bkthorp, January 13, 2010
Idle:

There are videos showing child sacrifice? Or there are videos showing the persecution of witches? I am well aware of the latter, but I'm surprised by the former. Could you please drop me an email?

Grazie,
- BKT

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Article doesn't suggest conspiracy or network
written by shawntr, January 13, 2010
I see you are correctly invoking the 80s satanic panic. Although, you only need a few guys to do a lot of killing by themselves. You don't need a Mike Warnke-style network of imaginary devil worshippers.
In the US, there was no evidence for a network of satanists. However, there are criminals like Richard Ramirez, David Berkowitz and David Parker Ray who had some sort of occultism element in their crimes, motives or influences that makes people ask if there are more people -- a ritualistic mafia-style operation.
But there is something testable in the article. Some witch doctor in the article named Polino Angela claimed to have sacrificed over 70 children and said he convinced over 2,400 witch doctors to stop. Maybe he can lead people to bodies -- or he's just making stuff up.
I am under the impression that these stories are some of what is fueling the persecution of supposed witches in Africa.
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written by tctheunbeliever, January 23, 2010

What a moron.
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written by tctheunbeliever, January 23, 2010
Sorry, that was for the idiot at the top. I forgot the order here.
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