Romanian Patriarch and Iranian Embassy Slam Satanic Verses Translation

News from Romania, via the Courier International:

For the first time, Romania has published a translation of Salman Rushdie’s novel, “The Satanic Verses.” Patriarch Daniel, head of Romania’s Orthodox Church, has criticized the book, which he says attacks the spiritual values and symbols of all religions. Sabina Fati [of Romania Libera] comments: “Not only does the head of the Orthodox Church want to control domestic culture; he also wants to control foreign culture as soon as it lands in Romania. Last year, the censorship rights of the Orthodox Church were written into law. … Article 13 of this law bans ‘all forms, all means, all acts of animosity toward religion,’ as well as ‘the public defamation of religious symbols.’ … It is not completely clear whether Patriarch Daniel, who plays the part of an incisive intellectual, has ever read Rushdie’s novel. But the word from his circles is that there is no interest in the book itself, but only in its offensive ideas.”

The translation has also been condemned by – not much of a surprise here – Iran:

In a statement, Iran’s Embassy in Bucharest has denounced the translation of The Satanic Verses and called for the book to be banned in Romania.

The Editura Polirom Publishing House has sponsored the translation work.

This is rather sinister: it should never be forgotten that Rushdie’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was murdered in 1991 (the killer was never found).

Meanwhile, here’s the death of Rushdie through divine intervention in the form of laser-beam firing flying Korans, as portrayed in the film International Gorillay. Unfortunately, the quality of the recording means we don’t get the full impact of the amazing special effects.

Assassination of Marabout Heightens Senegal-Gambia Tension

The Gambia Echo reports on the murder of a politically-connected marabout (Muslim spiritual leader) in Senegal:

On Thursday, the eve of the Muslim feast of Idal-adha (locally called Tobaski), Samsedin Hydara, a member of staff of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade was assassinated by a group of armed men who surrounded his compound at around 9 PM and shot him at close range. Samsedin Hydara of the prominent Marabout family…is a brother to Latif Hydara, another adviser in President Wade’s office.

The Senegalese government, through the Air Transport Minister, Farba Senghore, has all but named Banjul as responsible for the assassination of Samsedin Hydara… All indications are that [Gambia President] Yahya Jammeh should now watch his back and this time it is for real.

According to the US-based Gambian dissident Freedom Newspaper:

…Senegalese Interior Minister, Ngum represented [President Wade and]…spoke of the Senegalese Government determination to track the killers and showered praises to Sheriff Samsudeen Hydara for his role in bringing peace to Gassamance [sic].

…They are not ruling out Jammeh’s army as the killers were heard speaking in English after the shooting “the job is over” and were seen heading to the border with Gambia.

Casamance is the narrow area of Senegal south of the Gambian border, and there has been decades of conflict in the region between government troops and a rebel group called the Movement of Democratic Forces in Casamance (MDFC). According to the Gambian FOROYAA Newspaper, a faction of this group, rather than anyone working for Gambia, was responsible for the killing. Gambia has also accused the late marabout’s brother Latif Hydara of funding activities by MDFC members in Gambia, which would be a bit odd.

The Freedom Newspaper profiled Hydara last August (in a rather chaotic article), after Gambian soldiers tried to arrest him:

A few days ago state guard military men surrounded the Sirifo’s residence in Wassadou to effect his arrest. They were ordered to arrest the man and then keep him at Mile Two central prisons. The orders came directly from their commander in chief President Jammeh. As God’s men and women are usually protected by God Himself the Sirifo was able to escape disgrace and harm. During the process of attempted arrests and prayers the man managed to escape the evil men from Kanilai state guard’s garrison.

Next, news came in that the Sirifo had escaped to Dakar. This is the myth thats pounding on people’s heads now. The Sirifo escaped either through a conspiracy organised by some of his followers who were asked to go and arrest him or he used extra spiritual powers to be able to cross the thick layers of military personnel who surrounded his residence on that day. His followers in the Gambia National Army are plenty. They include Lang Tombong Tamba the current chief of staff…President Jammeh hates this man because he believes the guy is spiritual guide of the opposition members. He also does not want the Sirifo to give his powerful charms to others who could take over power from him Jammeh.

President Jammeh is known to be a bit of an eccentric, and earlier this year he earned global scorn after announcing that he personally had developed a herbal cure for AIDS. Back in October, the Freedom Newspaper ran a gloriously tabloid headline concerning a local musician, informing us that “Jammeh Wants Jaliba Kuyateh’s Tongue As Ritual”:

President Jammeh is after Jaliba’s tongue. His Marabout had asked him to produce the tongue of a leading Musician as a ritual known as “sarah or Sadaar.”  This according to the Marabout’s “lestiharr” or fortune telling would save the President from being toppled if provided. Jaliba is Gambia’s leading Musician today. Therefore, he is an open target.

Rev Moon’s Breakaway Catholic Church Launched in Zambia

From The Times of Zambia

A SPLINTER Catholic Church called the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia has been launched with Archbishop-elect, Luciano Mbewe, calling for more priests to join the church and fulfill their God-given role by marrying…Archbishop Mbewe said during the ceremony held at Peace Embassy that there were moments that the priests hoped the restoration of married priests would be made possible.

The position of Archbishop is a bit of a promotion for Mbewe, who used to be just plain Father Anzanga Mbewe when he was in the official Catholic Church. Mbewe runs the Zambian chapter of Married Priests Now, and in August he claimed that there are a hundred married priests in Zambia, as well as a number of married ex-nuns. He is also a disciple of Emmanuel Milingo, the excommunicated Roman Catholic Archbishop.

Standing behind all this, of course, is Reverend Moon and the Unification Church, which has for some time been making inroads into Zambia through Milingo and some obliging politicians (including former President Kenneth Kaunda). Various countries have “Peace Embassies”; they are an outreach of the Universal Peace Federation, which exists to raise Moon’s credibility through interfaith and “peacemaking” activities. In the USA, Married Priests Now is run by George Augustus Stallings, a former Catholic priest who now heads the Imani Temple; he has received gifts from Reverend Moon, and he hosted the rather strange “coronation” of Moon in Washington in 2004.

Milingo himself has been associated with Moon since 2001, when he surprised the world by marrying a Korean Unificationist named Maria Sung. However, he split from his wife shortly afterwards, and told journalists that

…the Moonies had plans: to found a well-financed parallel Catholic Church in Africa, autonomous from Rome, with its own hierarchy headed by Milingo.

Milingo also claimed that a document proving this had been stolen from his suitcase in Italy.

In 2006 Milingo was back with his wife, and back with the Unification Church. He told a Married Priests Now conference that in Korea he had met “many Catholics and Catholic married priests who are in the Unification movement”, and in April of this year he expressed publicly his belief that Moon is the Messiah. However, despite all this obvious evidence that Milingo is now Moon’s creature, he continues to make statements denying he is a Unificationist. He has also more than once publicly insisted that he has no interest in forming a rival church for disaffected Catholics in Africa, and in July 2006 he told the National Catholic Reporter that “We have no ambition at all, in any way, to do anything of that kind.” Surely that must now be judged to be a bald-faced lie?

(Hat tip to a reader)

Background to UK Creationist Theme Park Organisation

This one slipped past me from before Christmas:

The latest salvo in creationism’s increasingly ferocious battle with evolution is about to be fired in Lancashire. Not in a fiery sermon preached from the pulpit, but in the form of a giant Christian theme park that will champion the book of Genesis and make a multi-media case that God created the world in seven days.

The AH Trust, a charity set up last year by a group of businessmen alarmed by the direction in which they see society heading, has identified a number of potential sites in the north west of England to build the £3.5m Christian theme park.

The AH Trust (formerly the “Assembly Hall Trust”) has big plans:

The trust claims it already has a number of rich backers who are keen to invest in the project, which will boast two interactive cinemas, a cafeteria, six shops and a television recording studio, allowing it to produce its own Christian-themed films and documentaries.

According to the Observer, one of the supposed backers is rumoured to be Peter Vardy, the millionaire creationist businessman who was given several state schools to run by the UK government a few years ago. I blogged on Vardy here, but I’m doubtful he’s connected with this project.

Various bloggers have been looking into the AH Trust’s background. The Pagan Prattle notes that

The AH Trust’s most recent annual report notes that they have a grand total of £310 in the bank.

The AH Trust is run a certain Peter Jones; the trustees are Margaret Rosemary Jones, Denis Rodenko, Philip Fishwick, Bryan Davis and Alan Wright. The Prattle also notes that its website contains a number of “testimonials” from companies. Here are a few:

Wish you every success in your endeavours. – BAE Systems

Wish you every success in securing further funding. – Centrica plc

Wish you every success in your fundraising event. – James Dyson

Wish you all success with your endeavours. – BAA plc

Wish you every success for the future. – Thomas Cook

These look more like polite responses to letters rather than actual endorsements. A few extra statements are also thrown in for good measure:

The Political Correctness law is an excuse for not printing or promoting Family and Christian values. – David Frost

Details in the “investment” section are also rather perplexing:

The AH Trust is a non-profit organisation…It will cost £3.5M to build a large portal frame studio building complete with adequate car park facilities and we envisage to raise the building costs by various government grants, European funding, American funding and Corporate giving. We have demonstrated to the Television Broadcasting Companies that we can deliver on our objectives and we estimate from the world wide sales of DVDs and Broadcasting fees, the Studio earnings (£4.8M per annum) will be on average ten times the overhead costs.

…The Trustees have introduced an investment package to encourage a suitable investor, or investors, to invest in the purchase of a large portal frame building complete with adequate car park facilities. In simple terms, the investor will own the Television Studio and in turn will enjoy a high percentage of the Studio earnings.

Firstly, how can a “non-profit” organisation and registered charity promise to pass on profits to an investor? Also, how can they positively guarantee earnings of “on average ten times” the overhead costs? Don’t companies seeking investors need to be very careful about promises made in what are called “forward-looking” statements?

There also appears to be a university on the side:

The Television Studio offers fully regionally accredited degree courses in a wide range of subjects set in a dynamic Christian environment.

But accredited by whom? Again, no answer.

Another feature of the website of the AH Trust is that whenever you click on anything a pop-up appears for the Zebra Agency, which describes itself as the “The World’s Most Visited Film and Literary Agency Website”:

We represent a strong list of award winning and successful names and yet remain genuinely committed to the discovery of new talent.

The site is, however, discreet about who these “names” actually are. The Zebra Agency is run from the same address as the AH Trust, and it also runs Omega Productions, a documentary-making company (again, no actual titles given) which also put together the AH Trust website. Peter Jones is the Managing Director of Omega, while Zebra is listed as an “advisor”, which is doubtless very convenient. The Executive Director of Omega, Cara Wooi, helpfully provided one of the “testimonials” for the AH Trust, and she is named as the person to contact on the AH Trust website if you are interested in investing. Omega’s solictitors are given as Platt & Fishwick; doubtless this is connected with the AH Trustee Philip Fishwick. The Omega website also has a few photos of some vaguely famous British TV actors, although no reason is given for their presence on the site.

Omega Productions is described as “an independent production company located between Liverpool and Manchester”. And as it happens, the Zebra Agency used to have section on a company called Standish Films, which was also described as an “independent film production company located between Liverpool and Manchester”. That’s gone, although there remains a non-functional button on the Zebra website tagged with “About Standish Films”. The managing director of Standish was –  yet again – Peter Jones, and he drummed up some publicity in Wigan Today in 2004:

Standish Films is embarking on its latest project in February with a chiller entitled Intruder, but are short of one thing – locations.

Financed from both the private sector and lottery funding, the company needs to find settings for the film which are close together so the cast and crew can get to them easily.

Peter Jones, managing director of Standish Films, said: “We need a doctor’s surgery, a village pub, an office building, a theatre, village hall, a country house and hospital grounds.”

…The hour long thriller tells the story of Kathleen, who is trying to make a life for herself in the squalid surroundings of a bedsit.

An advert in UK Theatre Network added:

Standish Films plan to make a low budget feature film in September. The film I N T R U D E R is a crime thriller filmed in the North West and we are looking for International Actors who reside in the North West.

There are three elderly parts suited for June Whifield, Glenda Jackson and Hannah Gordon, plus lead roles for say Georgia Taylor and Jennifer James.

We are still searching for a strong Director to gel the cast.

Any Actor living in the North West who is interested in the project, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are literary agency acting on behalf of Standish Films and this is a unique opportunity to make this film in the North West.

Cara

admin@zebraagency.co.uk

The film was apparently made, although details are scarce: there is no mention on the IMDB, and the only reference I could find comes from this site, which tells us that the director was a certain Denzil Lobo, and a TV actor named Tim Paley played a police officer. The famous actresses mentioned in the advert do not appear to have taken up the invitation. The website of Standish Films, meanwhile, has disappeared, although Wayback helps us out here. The film was inevitably described as a “unique investment opportunity”:

Poor, shy, Kathleen.  She runs away from home and tries her hardest to make a life for herself in a gloomy one room bed-sit…Her desperate search for a new lover, one that typifies the  sensitive, a caring man, the ones only read about, is fulfilled………..to her horror.

Agnes studied at Oxford University and became a Doctor. She took early retirement and bought the house for her sister Hilda and her to retire in. She believes in the supernatural and holds séances to communicate to the Spirit World.

Unfortunately a spirit with an attitde [sic] problem contacts her. Unwittingly, Agnes has brought an Intruder into this world.

The Intruder begins to slaughter people in the quiet town of Babington and D.I. Burton has the task of catching the serial killer. The question is does she catch the serial killer, or does the killer catch her?

The website also claimed that none other than Jamie Lee Curtis had been cast to play D.I. Burton (perhaps putting on a Manchester accent?). How exactly an occult-themed slasher flick accorded with the plans of the AH Trust to provide an alternative to the “sex and violence” of television is not explained. There is no mention of Intruder on the Omega Productions website, although there is once again the promise of “A Unique Investment Opportunity”.

But what about the actual religious perspective of the AH Trust? Its website has four books for sale; one is a title by the New Zealand-based conspiracy theorist Barry Smith, while another is The Omega Files, which is

A series of articles covering a time period from 9,000 BC to future events. These are scientific based, written by a Christian pen on topics from Astronauts to Freemasons.

There is also a link which seems to have disappeared, but which can be reassembled from a cached version. This mentions the

…Web site of the International Christian Assembly Hall, covering biblical topics including prophecy, world news in prophecy, the Good News and holding International Christian Assemblies…

The phrasing of this is very similar to that used by the United Church of God (I found the phrase “including prophecy…world news in prophecy, the Good News” on related sites), which is one of the groups that traces itself back to Herbert Armstrong. The UCG is considered heterodox by most other Christian groups, although of course similarity of phrasing could just be coincidental. According to a report from the Lancashire Evening Post, Jones says the trust is “non-denominational and covered all religions, including Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Hindu.” I’m sure the Roman Catholics of Lancashire will be pleased with that listing.

(Hat tip: Pharyngula)

Commercial Break

A public service advert about firework safety, from Holland (hat tip to MediaWatchWatch, which has a couple more in the series):

An advert for high-definition televisions, from Israel (hat tip to Failed Messiah; it was pulled after a week or so).

Bethlehem Today

Religious Leaders Support Polio Vaccine in Yemen

…but conspiracy theories remain an obstacle in Pakistan

From the Yemen Observer, a few days ago:

The Yemeni government began on Saturday a nation-wide campaign to vaccinate more than 4 million children against polio.

…The anti-polio campaign came after the spread of the virus in Nigeria, India, Chad, Somalia and Sudan, said Yemen’s deputy minister of public health and population, Majed al-Junaid.

…[A] UNICEF official commended the enthusiastic support extended by religious leaders, Imams and community leaders for their previous support of the door-to-door campaign, and urged them to add their voice and influence for making this new round successful.

The virus spread because in Nigeria certain religious and political leaders chose to promote the rumour that the vaccine was a plot to sterilise Muslims, or to cause AIDS and cancer. It was one of the first stories I covered on this blog, and I followed carefully the malign and bizarre efforts of Kano governor Ibrahim Shekarau to block the vaccine, in cahoots with a fear-mongering Islamist academic named Hussain Abdulkareem. Eventually an alternative batch was imported from Indonesia, which doubtless profited certain persons unknown, but this was too little too late, and the virus was soon aftewards seen in sixteen countries, most likely carried by pilgrims via Saudi Arabia. Thankfully religious leaders in Yemen appear to be acting with more responsibility. Darra Adam Khel called for the killing of NGO workers on the grounds that they were “agents of the Jews and the West”. Soon afterwards, a Pakistani health worker named Abdul Ghani Khan, who had particular responsibility for polio vaccines, was murdered. That was in February of this year; I haven’t been able to find out if any arrests have been made. The continuing problem is addressed in today’s Pakistan-based International News:

The Nigeria hysteria spread to Pakistan, where an Islamist cleric named

Pakistan is one of four nations where polio is yet to be stamped out — the others are India, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Recent reports however suggest that after years of strenuous and determined effort, often in the face of violent opposition, Pakistan is close to being polio-free for the first time.

…Despite the potential for Pakistan to be polio-free in the near future, obstacles remain; perhaps the largest of these being the belief propagated by some religious leaders that the polio vaccine is a part of some dastardly western plot to limit the fertility of Muslim populations. They do their followers, and their followers’ children born and unborn, a grave disservice by so poisoning their minds — as well as doing nothing for Pakistan’s international image.

There have also been problems in India.

“War on Christmas” Hysteria: A Dispatch from the British Front

 

Bill O’Reilly and WorldNetDaily have nothing on the UK tabloids. From Private Eye magazine (1199, p.6), helpfully transcribed by blog Botherer:

In early December, Healey Primary School in Rochdale sent a note home to parents of 4 to 7-year-old pupils: “Please could parents send just one Christmas card to the whole class rather than asking school for a whole class name list. This is to avoid tears and tantrums which often occur when Christmas cards are distributed.”

The school was worried about the cost to poorer parents and the feelings of children who are left out. However, despite the fact that the school will be holding several Christmas-themed events, including a carol service, the guidance about cards was reported in the media as “school bans Christmas cards” in the name of “political correctness gone mad” (the descriptor “gone mad” is often added to the phrase “political correctness” by British polemicists):

“Furious parents and campaigners last night slammed the politically correct brigade for spoiling the true meaning of Christmas,” roared the Express. “Festive cards are being banned in schools… the season of goodwill is being ruined by Scrooge-like officials fearful of offending other faiths or worried about health and safety rules.” Its sister paper the Daily Star, meanwhile, kept up its own tradition of ignoring all the facts with the front-page headline: “Ban on Christmas cards in case they upset Muslims!”

A 2004 BBC News profile of Star and Express owner Richard “Dirty” Desmond can be seen here.

Pakistani NGOs Prominent at “One Family Under God” Event

Fauji Foundation director made “Ambassador for Peace” by Unification Church front organisation

From New Europe:

Bringing representatives from different faiths together on one platform, an “International Conference on Interfaith Dialogue towards Global Peace” unanimously passed a resolution last week “Brussels Peace Declaration on Religious Coexistence” at Peace Embassy Brussels, Belgium.

The conference brought together a number of organisations and individuals, including Muhammad Tahir of the Fauji Foundation, Willy Fautre of Human Rights Without Frontiers, and Bashy Quraishy of the European Network Against Racism. Two organisations in particular agreed to work together, and appear to have been the organisers of the event: the Institute of Peace and Development, which is a think tank concerned with Kashmir, and the Universal Peace Federation:

Philippe Jacques Chairman UPF said in his welcoming remarks, “We are one family under God, we have to promote understanding and tolerance between all faith and religions.” UPF will continue these efforts in future with INSPAD, he added. Amin ul Haq President INSPAD appreciated the valuable efforts and role of United Nations, UNESCO and UPF for the promotion of Inter-faith, Inter-cultural Dialogue and religious coexistence.

A press release from INSPAD in the Kashmiri Observer gives some further details, although the English is poor:

Two renowned NGO’s Universal Peace federation and Institute of Peace & Development (INSPAD) Belgium visited a Muslim mosque in Molenbeek and told that Inter-faith dialogue is the need of the time.

…The NGO’s officials Mr. Philippe Jacques, Mr.Hugo Veraxc of UPF and Mr. Amin ul Haq, Tahir Tabassum and Sardar Javaid Sarwer of INSPAD said that we must adopt peaceful & acceptable policies instead of raising religious controversial issues.

They expressed the NGO’s responsibilities are increased that they should play the role of Ambassador for Peace and promote Inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogues indeed. Both NGO’s have decided unanimously that they will visit all religious worship places for the promotion of Peace, understanding and tolerance.

The event also saw Fauji Foundation Director Muhammad Tahir receive the title of “Ambassador for Peace” from the UFP. The Fauji Foundation is a significant charity in Pakistan, and as I’ve observed previously (here and here), a remarkable number of statesmen and other prominent individuals from around the world have chosen to accept the honour of becoming a UPF Ambassador. The Universal Peace Federation is a front organisation the Unification Church, and while the public rallying-call is for “one family under God”, less emphasis is put on the fact that the “one family” also has one True Father on earth: Rev Sun Myung Moon. Prominent participants in UFP activities are a massive boost to Rev Moon’s credibility, and their involvement serves the long-term strategic interests of the Unification Church.

The website of the World Council of Churches explains that a “Brussels declaration” on inter-religious cooperation appeared back in December 2001:

An international conference “Peaceful coexistence between the great monotheistic religions” was held in Brussels, 19-20 December 2001, at the invitation of His All Holiness Bartholomew, the ecumenical patriarch, and His Excellency Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission. In a declaration, “The peace of God in the world: towards peaceful coexistence and collaboration among the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam”, participants affirmed “the will of God is for the peace of heaven to reign on earth” and that such peace is not merely the absence of war but also the gift of abundant life. Thus “there is indeed an immediate and inseparable connection between peace and justice.” The statement emphasizes the need for education, communication, dialogue, and respect to enhance understanding of religious communities and their beliefs.

The full (and somewhat platitudinous) text can be seen here. Details are scarce, but one assumes that the “Brussels Peace Declaration” now being promoted by the UPF is the same document.

The UPF/INSPAD conference took place around the same time as a UPF “Global Peace Festival” in the Philippines. That event saw Martin Luther King III share a stage with Rev Moon’s son Hyun Jin Moon. Again, the slogan was “one family under God”. A particular concern with Kashmir would complement Moon’s interest in bringing peace to the Middle East.

Witchcraft Hysteria in Nigeria Highlighted

London Observer notes role of film director/evangelist

Bad news from Nigeria, via This Day:

Two women have allegedly been killed by angry youths in Warri, after they were reportedly accused of causing the death of a two- year old girl through witchcraft…A large and wild mob of angry youths stormed homes of the two women, dragged them out and later beat them to death. One of the women, who eked out a living from fishing, reportedly bled to death, after being stabbed in the breast, while the second was burnt alive.

This comes six months after three women were burned to death in Uganda for the same reason, and a couple of weeks after the UK Observer ran a story – and an accompanying video piece – on the rising number of Nigerian children being abused by relatives who have come to believe that their children are witches:

In a maddened state of terror, parents and whole villages turn on the child. They are burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush…This is becoming commonplace.

The author of the story, Tracey McVeigh, places the blame for this on “besuited Christian pastors and their hours-long, late-night services”. She also points out that foreign influences have been at work:

…Although old tribal beliefs in witch doctors are not so deeply buried in people’s memories, and although there had been indigenous Christians in Nigeria since the 19th century, it is American and Scottish Pentecostal and evangelical missionaries of the past 50 years who have shaped these fanatical beliefs. Evil spirits, satanic possessions and miracles can be found aplenty in the Bible, references to killing witches turn up in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Galatians, and literal interpretation of scriptures is a popular crowd-pleaser.

This is something I’ve blogged on previously. The abuse of children accused of witchcraft is also an alarming development in Congo, where teachings hysteria about witchcraft has been particularly promoted by a mega-church called Combat Spirtuel. I noted that the leaders of this church enjoy links with an American neo-Pentecostal leader who in turn has a position on an “Apostolic Council” of prominent neo-Pentecostal figures.

McVeigh tells us that many people blame the witch-hysteria in Nigeria on the Liberty Gospel Church, which has 60 branches across the Niger Delta and beyond (including, apparently, Rome):

It was started by a local woman, mother-of-two Helen Ukpabio, whose luxurious house and expensive white Humvee are much admired in the city of Calabar where she now lives. Many people in this area credit the popular evangelical DVDs she produces and stars in with helping to spread the child witch belief.

Ukpabio has a website which lists numerous videos and books. These include The Coven 1 (“Is a revelation of a typical witchcraft planning, manipulation, monitoring and eventual execution of their evil devices against the unsuspecting victim”); Married to a Witch; and Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft:

There is hardly any family without witchcraft possession or attack with many held in deep fear of witchcraft operations. This book is extremely unique as nothing in it is extracted from any other source but all information is based on God’s dealing with his servant, Evang. (Mrs.) Helen Ukpabio.

One of her films to have received some exposure in the West is End of the Wicked; one review can be seen here:

One of the most popular Nigerian directors is Teco Benson, a former civil servant who took to film making in 1996 and has been hugely prolific since, specialising in the sort of melodramatic religious films typified by End of the Wicked: A Witchcraft Movie [1999]. He frequently works with Helen Ukpabio, owner of Liberty Films, itself associated with the Liberty Evangelical Ministry, a woman who has had a hand in a significant number of Nigerian genre films – when she’s not leading crusades against Nigeria’s apparently large population of “witches”.

…End of the Wicked is crude, unpolished, utterly baffling and yet strangely compelling…No two adjacent scenes actually seem to have anything to do with each other…The film’s strangeness just keeps on getting stranger as it progresses – gore fans will be rewarded with a tacky scene in which a child demon forces a victim’s eyes to fall out and just about everyone will do a double take when one of Beelzebub’s female followers suddenly reveals that she has a monstrous penis, given to her by Beelzebub so she can make love with her own daughter-in-law!

The film was featured in the “Compass of Horror” film festival held in Bristol (UK) in November last year, and the evangelist was game enough to take part:

Nothing I have ever seen can compare to End of the Wicked. This subgenre of Nigerian evangelist horror (“Nollywood” if you will) is shot on video and the nearest comparison I can think of would be Borat’s home movies…As the panel discussion would later reveal, the notion of family oriented witchcraft is still very much at the heart of Nigeria’s social problems.

…The panel discussion with director Helen Ukpabio and Professor Onookome Okome reveals that over a thousand of these video films are made a month in Nigeria and are spread on videotape as the country has no cinema distribution to speak of. This Nigerian cultural phenomenon outsells Hollywood product several times over in the local market. Mrs Ukpabio also helps put the film in a political context by discussing the very unpredictable nature of government censorship in regards to supposedly state-funded industry. Eye opening is an understatement.

Another Ukpabio movie, The Rapture, was banned by the Nigeria board of film censors for alleged anti-Catholicism.

Ukpabio trained as a nurse before becoming an evangelist, although according to her own account she also managed to fit in an early career as a occultist:

I was initiated into Olumba cult [i.e. The Brotherhood of the Cross and Star] at 14 years of age, I was also betrothed to Lucifer as would be wife. This automatically qualifies me to attend a spiritual school for the Royals. I was trained in concepts of mysticism, occultism, spiritism, Satanism, demonism and general cultism. The idea of developing strategies that will aid in keeping activities of the cult alive and seeing more human registering with the occult kingdom is the number one goal of the occult kingdom.

The practice of witchcraft, necromancy, familiar spirits, and other spiritistic activities in order to multiply them thereby causing confusion multiplying wrong altars are Satan’s strategy to help water down the true churches are some of their activities…

Perhaps Ukpabio may like to reflect on whether a hysteria which is claiming lives and ruining the lives of children might also be “Satan’s strategy to help water down the true churches”. I doubt that Ukpabio approves of what is happening to “child-witches”, and I’m sure she would be appalled by the murders of the two women in Warri – but after instilling so much fear over occultic conspiracies, might she not think it would be a good idea to moderate her message? And might not some of the big-name Western evangelists who regularly visit Africa and purport to demonstrate the reality of spiritual forces – in particular Reinhard Bonnke and Benny Hinn – also consider having either a quiet word or making a public statement on a problem that now requires urgent attention?

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)