Ferrigno of Nonsense

It looks like Joel C Rosenberg, Oliver North, and Tim LaHaye have a new rival in the wingnut schlockbuster business: Robert Ferrigno, whose new book Prayers for the Assassin imagines America in 2040:

New York and Washington, D.C., are nuclear wastelands. Chicago is abandoned, and Phoenix, the site of a civil war battle. The nation is divided between an Islamic republic across the north, and the Christian Bible Belt in the old South. Alcohol is outlawed, replaced by Jihad Cola, and mosques dot the skyline. Veiled women hurry through the streets. Freedom is controlled by the state, paranoia rules, and rebels plot to regain free will…

Apparently, Islamist terrorists have unleashed atomic destruction, but Israel wound up with the blame. Fantastical, you say? Hell, no. Ferrigno explains on his blog:

I thought I was being creative. Until last week.

Last week the National Football League announced the Giants stadium in New Jersey would now include a special area for Muslims who wanted to pray privately during NFL games. So much for my creativity. Maybe I’ll have to settle for precognition.

Just how long before all Giants fans are forced to bow before Allah five times a day? But Ferrigno is just warming up for his vision of Islamageddon:

Enter the start of the French intifada in November, three weeks of rioting in the Muslim ghettos surrounding Paris, with 100 buildings and over 9,000 cars torched…The riots were just the beginning. Previews of coming attractions.

No need to actually say anything about local conditions in the areas where the riots took place – this is was the typical conservative non-analysis I complained of at the time. But why is this happening?

The dirty little secret is that European socialism can’t grow jobs or children. Unemployment averages ten percent, officially, and for at least the last ten years France, Italy and Germany have had a flatline birth rate among white, native-born Europeans…What does it say about a culture where the people are too lazy, distracted or self-centered to reproduce?

By people, of course, Ferrigno means “women” – as does Goerge Weigel, the neo-con scholar who has been singing this lament for a while (as I noted here). And we all know that socialism shrivels the gonads. But what about the UK?

Meanwhile, in Great Britain local banks have curtailed the centuries-old practice of giving piggy banks to children, out of deference to the Muslim abhorrence of swine. (I am not making this up)

Ferrigno is not making it up, but British tabloid the Daily Express did, as was widely reported several weeks ago. Ferrigno also thinks that British Christianity is in a bad way:

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, apologized for the Crusades, which began in 1095 when Pope Urban II called on Christendom to take up the sword to “liberate the Holy Land” after Muslims cut off Jerusalem from Christian pilgrims. Atrocities abounded on both sides for a hundred years. No similar apology has been issued by Muslim clerics that I can find. Why should they?

Yeah, Williams – where does it say in the Bible that Christians ought to do what they think is right, no matter how their opponents have behaved?

But Ferrigno has written no mere potboiler, as he explains in a previous entry:

I spent over two years researching the book, everything from theology and geopolitics to small unit battle tactics and the proper position of the hands and feet during Muslim devotions. As a former reporter, I utilized facts to bolster the story, from dietary proscriptions, to the second-class status of Christians under Islamic law, to the nature of the main antagonist in the book.

Any similarities with the Two Ronnies’ The Worm that Turned, in which Englishmen are forced to wear dresses in a future ruled by women, is purely coincidental.

Kansas Republicans Want Religious Tests for Academics

The Johnson County Sun reports that the department of religious studies at Kansas University is still under siege from conservative politicians (link added):

The offending professor has resigned over his comments, but holding legislative hearings about anti-religious bias at Kansas universities remains a valid idea, Rep. Kay O’Connor, R-Olathe, said Monday.

This is, of course, the well-publicised case of Paul Mirecki, which I described here. Mirecki has been effectively marginalized within his own institution – the latest humiliation being that his department has sent out postcards to donors disassociating itself from his infamous anti-religious email comments unearthed by a conservative activist. But O’Connor, who was happy to see high-school science education hijacked by a religious lobby, is apparently far from finished:

“There would be one school of thought that there still should be a hearing, because if he is continuing to teach, does he have this same hate campaign going on in other classes?”

But given the lack of any actual reported student discontent or other serious concerns, just what would the hearing focus on? The Roman Catholic O’Connor has an idea:

“He is credited with bragging that no one in his religion department believes in God. If that is a true statement, what is happening to the religious department?” she asked.

This follows on from earlier comments by Rep. Brenda Landwehr:

…Landwehr also questioned whether Mirecki should be allowed to teach religious studies courses.

“It’s hard to teach religion if you don’t believe in it,” she said.

Republican activist John Altevogt (who first publicised Mirecki’s emails), meanwhile, has called for the whole department to be placed under the control of a religious organisation.

One would like to think that such a proposed assault on academic freedom would be too far-fetched to be taken seriously. But when you’ve succeeded in redefining science, you probably think that the sky’s the limit.


Meanwhile, wingnut columnist and academic Mike Adams (who was profiled on this blog a while ago) has also jumped on the bandwagon, sending a series of questions to Mirecki – Mirecki’s failure to answer is supposed to prove something. Adams begins his letter thus:

My name is Mike Adams. I am a columnist for www.TownHall.com. Just a few minutes ago, I called your office seeking an interview about your alleged roadside beating at the hands of two apparent Christian fundamentalists. First, let me say that as a fundamentalist Christian I am opposed to any such violence.

Nice to see a conservative describe himself with the f-word, rather than wimp out with “Evangelical”. But this is curious: if Adams is opposed to violence, why did he marry a woman who told an anti-war student in 2001 that she deserved “to be dragged down the street” by her hair, and that she should have “the good sense” to keep her “liberal mouth shut”?

Egyptian Evangelicals “Don’t Understand” Christian Zionist “Favoritism”

Lee J Grady, editor of the neo-Pentecostal Charisma magazine, reports on his recent visit to Egypt, where he met with Egyptian evangelicals:

…What is also obvious is that Arab Christians feel neglected and abandoned by many of us in the West. They don’t understand why some Western Christians seem to show favoritism toward Jews, especially when the Israeli government has at times persecuted and harassed Arab believers in the Palestinian territories.

Egyptian Christians love all lost people, this leader told me. “But our love for the Jewish people should not cause us to love any other group of people less.”

This is the second time recently that Grady has challenged Christian Zionist assumptions. Last month he noted that:

Many church folks, particularly those who were around in the 1960s and 1970s, have been conditioned to be religious pessimists. They studied books such as The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey, who predicted that Soviet Russia would invade Israel and trigger the end of the world. Lindsey was horribly wrong, but different variations of his speculative theories spread like a virus…Today, many American Christians have a similar doom-and-gloom attitude about the Middle East.

Grady, by contrast, is optimistic that the Middle East will become Christianised in future years, in part due to supernatural manifestations (including Muslims having dreams about Jesus).

But perhaps Grady ought to be directing some of his comments towards Stephen Strang, Charisma‘s publisher. Strang is a hard-core Christian Zionist, as this advert shows:

In response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent declaration that Israel should be “wiped off the map,” a proclamation signed by participants of “A Night to Honor Israel” will call on the U.S. government to stand with Israel in its battle against global Islamic terrorism.

Of course, opposition to the wretched Iranian president is right and proper; but the advertised event has a particular ideological focus – and some extremist participants:

The event, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Thursday, November 17, at Altamonte Springs, Fla., located near Orlando, has “one purpose only—to show Christian love and support for Israel—both the land and its people,” says Stephen Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine and sponsor of “A Night to Honor Israel.”

“Israel’s battle with terrorism is America’s battle with terrorism. We stand united together!” the proclamation declares. The signed proclamation will be sent to U.S. officials and the United Nations, Strang says.

The keynote speaker for the event is John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church, an 18,000-member nondenominational congregation in San Antonio, and an ardent supporter of Israel who has visited the country regularly since 1978.

Hagee is a major Christian funder of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. And he’s only selectively anti-terrorist, as Gershom Gorenberg noted in 2000 (1), discussing one of Hagee’s books:

Hagee, pastor of a 15,000-member San Antonio church, starts by praising Rabin’s brilliance and personal warmth. But then he gives the backdrop to Rabin’s murder. Israel, he says, is divided between religious Jews who think they have a “holy deed to the land” and Jews who “put more faith in man than in the God of their fathers.”…And, he says, Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, belonged to the religious side of Israel. From there, readers are left to draw their own conclusions.

In short, Hagee and Strang are just the kind of Christian that Grady’s Egyptian Evangelicals find so annoying and baffling.


(1) The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, Oxford University Press, New York, page 165.

Namibia Rejects Satanic Panic over Universal Church

A bit of sense from Namibia:

NAMIBIA is not considering any actions against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in Namibia because it does not have any reason to do so, a Government official said.

…The comment follows a recent decision by the Zambian government to ban the Universal Church in that country to pave the way for investigations into allegations against it, which resulted in widespread riots in the capital Luanda over the weekend.

I covered this at the time; the allegation was that the church was a front for Satanists. However:

[Said Home Affairs spokesperson Kauku Hengari] “We are a government doing our business guided by our Constitution, which strongly emphasises the freedom of our people towards their choice of religion. Hence, anyone is free to choose the church of his or her own choice.”

This is a welcome development, and a sign of improvement in the country post-Sam Nujoma. Nujoma, who stepped down earlier this year after fifteen years as President, had openly scoffed at such constitutional guarantees. The Namibian reported in 2004:

In 2001, Nujoma labelled Christianity a “foreign philosophy” prompting the CCN [Council of Churches in Namibia] leadership to call a meeting with him.

Meeting a group of farmers in the North, Nujoma had said that the Constitution recognised freedom of worship “but I don’t care because it (Christianity) is artificial, it’s a foreign philosophy.”

Nujoma instead suggested that Namibians go back to their ancestral worship of the cattle god, known as “Kalunga ya Nangombe”.

Last year the President accused some churches of aiding the spread of HIV-AIDS by operating throughout the night.

Namibian politicians have also been willing to indulge in a bit of Satanic panic-mongering, associating Satanism with homosexuality. Gay Today noted in 1998:

On November 6, [Jerry] Ekandjo, Namibia’s Home Affairs Minister, had announced a scheme to put in place the necessary legal machinery to “curb the spread of homosexuality in society”.

Ekandjo had appealed for heavy penalties and even for the castration of homosexuals in the country as they were “involved in Satanist practices” and “are lower than pigs and dogs”.

Nujoma stepped down in March, and was succeeded by his ally Hifikepunye Pohamba, a Christian who has stressed freedom of religion in some of his statements. However, homophobia is still rampant, and in September politician Theopolina Mushelenga accused homosexuals of betraying the fight for Namibian freedom, spreading HIV, and insulting African culture.

There is also still some concern that followers of the evil one may be lurking somewhere. A few days ago it was reported that (emphasis added):

In October, the NC [National Council] accepted a motion by Vice Chairperson Margreth Mensah-Williams that its standing committee on Gender, Youth and Information investigate the plight of sex workers, street children and other vulnerable people.In addition, the committee had to investigate the extent to which Satanism is practised…

Committee Chairperson Sebastiaan Karupu reported yesterday that, because of the wide scope of their task, as well as resource constraints, the first phase of the study focused only on sex workers.

(Tipped from Christianity Today Weblog)

Papal Theologian’s Family and Poland’s Far Right

Interesting background to the new Theologian of the Papal Household, reported in the Tablet:

FR WOJCIECH GIERTYCH OP, the London-born son of a prominent Polish politician, has been named the new Theologian of the Papal Household, a post that makes him, in layman’s terms, the theological sub-editor of the Pope’s writings and speeches.

The newly named papal theologian is a member of a well-known, political family in Poland that spans three generations. He is the son of the late Jedrzej Giertych (1903-1992), a staunch Polish nationalist who fled his native country after the Second World War (which he spent in German prison camps) and settled in London. A prolific author of many books, some of his political writings have been criticised as anti-Semitic.

That’s putting it mildly – as this article shows, Jedrzej was obsessed with Jewish conspiracies in Poland, and quite liked Hitler before the invasion. But back to the Tablet:

Fr Giertych’s older brother Maciej, 69, a papal-appointed observer at the 1987 Synod of Bishops on the laity, is a Euro-parliamentarian for the conservative League of Polish Families party. Mr Giertych’s 34-year-old son Roman, a member of the Polish Parliament, is chairman of the right-wing party, which describes itself as being inspired by Catholic teaching. The party militantly opposes abortion, homosexual rights and feminism. Its critics have called it ultra-nationalist and fiercely anti-European Union.

Maciej and Roman have featured on this blog before. Roman accuses homosexuals of being “pederasts”, and seeks to make it illegal even to advocate same-sex marriage; LPF activists were involved with a physical attack on a gay rights march in Krakow last year.

Nobody should be penalised just because they have embarrassing relatives, but it would be good to know just how ideologically close Wojciech is to the rest of his family – especially given that he’s now working for a man who also apparently believes that gays are paedophiles.

Bible Syllabus War Update

The American Family Association is not happy about a bill in the state legislature which would allow a new high school elective course based on a textbook produced by the Bible Literacy Project (BLP):

“While we enthusiastically endorse the teaching of the Bible as part of a well-rounded education, this bill goes too far by attempting to force local school districts to use only one, untested textbook,” commented Stephen Crampton, Chief Counsel for the AFA Center for Law & Policy. “It usurps the authority of the State Board of Education, which is vested with exclusive authority to review and approve textbooks for use in the public schools of Alabama.”

Crampton may have a point in law, but given that the State Board of Education is clearly incompetent, one can understand why legislators are stepping in (link added):

Several Alabama schools already offer a course on the Bible using an established curriculum offered by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) called “The Bible in History and Literature.” The NCBCPS curriculum is currently used in 317 school districts in 37 different states and enjoys wide support across the nation.

As has been noted on this blog before, the NCBCPS syllabus is junk. No serious scholars were involved in its production, and much of its material has been provided by cranks – the most sinister of whom is David Barton, a far-right pseudo-historian with a theocratic agenda. As if to underscore its vacuity, the NCBCPS even boasts about an endorsement from none other than…Chuck Norris. The syllabus was the subject of a devastating critique from Biblical scholar Mark Chancey; the NCBCPS was unable to offer any defence of its shoddy materials, and so instead confined itself to a hysterical personal attack on Chancey.

The Bible Literacy Project, in contrast, has been praised for its scholarly approach by a wide range of organisations, although not the AFA; the AFA’s affiliate Agape Press has instead run an article accusing the BLP of being a Communist conspiracy to bring about a one-world religion.

Meanwhile, Ector County in Odessa, Texas, is still debating which syllabus to adopt. A public meeting was held in November in which both the BLP and NCBCPS syllabi were discussed; we’re still waiting for the final decision to be announced.

And as it happens, Agape today provides further evidence that the Alabama State Board of Education has betrayed the children under its care:

[A] survey conducted by the Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama found that about 70 percent of the state’s residents believe creationism and intelligent design should be taught in public school science classes. Fewer than half of those polled said the theory of evolution should be taught in schools.

…The Alabama Board of Education recently voted to retain an insert for state biology textbooks that refers to evolution as a “controversial theory” on the origins of life.

UPDATE: Agape has now confirmed that Crampton is on the NCBCPS board.

Kay Warren admits Evangelicals Ignorant about HIV/AIDS

Last week Rick Warren’s Saddleback megachurch in California held a conference on HIV and AIDS, with a view to getting evangelical Christians involved in the issue. Apparently it was reasonably sensible, with Warren acknowledging the need for condoms (within the “ABC” strategy seen in Uganda). But it looks like it’s going to be uphill work – Warren’s wife Kay made an astonishing admission in a recent interview that appeared in Crosswalk. She was discussing her knowledge of HIV until a couple of years ago:

…I think most people are like me, especially evangelicals. I was afraid I’d get sick, first of all, if I hung out with anybody who was HIV positive. Secondly, I thought it was a homosexual disease, and if anyone knew I was hanging around gays, they’d think I’d gone soft on homosexuality. But the reality is, it’s not a gay disease. More women than men are infected around the world.

I’m very glad that Kay Warren now knows better, and is eager to spread her new-found knowledge. But can it really be true that prosperous evangelical Americans in the twenty-first century believe that HIV can be caught by “hanging out” with someone who is HIV positive? That they are largely unaware that most victims are heterosexuals living in Africa? This is incredible.

Buddha Boy’s Blankets

A week ago, the Daily Telegraph reported on the mysterious “Buddha Boy” of Nepal:

Devotees claim that Ram Bomjon, who is silently meditating beneath a tree, has not eaten or drunk anything since he sat down at his chosen spot six months ago.

…Photographs of Ram Bomjon, available for five rupees (4p) from his makeshift shrine, have become ubiquitous across the region. “Far and wide, it’s the only topic of conversation,” said Upendra Lamichami, a local journalist.

He said no allegation had yet emerged of Ram breaking his fast or moving, even to relieve himself.

But now one has, and it appears that a rather important relevant piece of information was omitted by our Telegraph hack. Over to Rationalist International (emphasis added):

Last week, three physicians from Kathmandu visited the spot on behalf of the IRA [Indian Rationalist Association] and approached the boy’s guardians politely for permission to take a blood sample from him. They were strictly denied access to him. Goons threatened them with dire consequences if they did not leave the area immediately…

Observing the boy with a binocular, the rationalist physicians found his breath regular and healthy…They could not observe him eating or drinking during the day. But every evening, the tree is being covered with blankets hiding Bamjon’s niche between the roots, so that nobody can see what is happening there between dusk and dawn.

With the help of a glamorous assistant, no doubt.

Idi Amin to Rise from Meccan Grave?

Staying with Africa, an unwelcome blast from the past in Uganda. The Kampala Monitor (via AllAfrica) has the details:

MUSLIMS have asked government to consider a national prayer and a public holiday for the late former President, Idi Amin rather than bringing his remains.

I’d be in favour of a public holiday celebrating the demise of Africa’s most loathsome dictator ever, but apparently that’s not what they have in mind:

Through their umbrella body, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), they welcomed the government’s move but warned that it should be done in accordance with the Islamic norms.

“As the Muslim community in Uganda, we welcome the President’s decision of recognising Amin as a former head of state after a long period of public outcry. Let us hope that the era of calling him swine has ended,” UMSC Publicist, Hajji Nsereko Mutumba said yesterday.

I’m sure that pigs are also hoping for the same thing. Amin’s corpse is currently interred in Mecca, where the mass-murderer spent his twilight years. Current president Yoweri Museveni had agreed, just before Amin died, that his body could be brought back to Uganda, but to exhume it now would violate Islamic injunctions. Plus, as Amin’s son Taban notes:

“…Good Muslims believe that Saudi Arabia is a holy place and anyone who dies from there goes straight to heaven.”

Hmmm…Some older Ugandan reports archived here give some background to the UMSC’s current position. Here’s one, from just before Amin’s death

…Mufti [Shaban] Mubajje dismissed reports that the Muslim leadership was organising to bury the former president at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headquarters at Old Kampala.

It was Amin who donated the Old Kampala land to Muslims during his reign (1971-1979).

(It should be recalled that Old Kampala was heavily Asian until 1972, when Amin had them all expelled)

…Imam Ssentongo said that…Amin is the most patriotic leader Uganda ever had, adding that the country might never produce his equal again.

Maybe Ssentongo could console himself with a trip to Zimbabwe…And here’s another, from the same day:

The chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, Imam Kasozi, has said that former President Idi Amin did a lot to develop the Muslim community and the country.

He appealed to Muslims to ignore allegations against Amin and advised them to appreciate the fact that everybody had his weaknesses.

He said that before Amin took power in 1971, there were less than 100 Muslim university graduates but that situation quickly improved.

Amin’s death inspired further fond reminiscences:

[Opposition politician Hussein] Kyanjo…asked government officials to give “Muslims a break to mourn their dear one, Idi Amin,”

…Islamic cleric Haruna Sengooba asked the government to allow them to observe annual prayers on August 17 in remembrance of Amin’s death.

…’Show us the skulls’ We challenge those castigating him to show the world the skulls of those he killed, like we have been shown the skulls of those killed after him,” UMSC religious affairs secretary Mahad Kakooza said.

Meanwhile, Taban Amin is apparently in a bullish mood over his father:

Referring to the Presidential Emoluments Act, Taban said: “Government should also pay the outstanding salary arrears of President Amin as stipulated by the law”.

“You’re having a laugh”, as we say in the UK.

Satanic Panic Outbreak in Zambia

Several days ago, the BBC carried a curious report from Zambia (link added):

Zambia’s government has banned the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God after allegations that the church was involved in satanic rituals.

Police have been deployed to guard all its church buildings to prevent members from assembling.

Over the weekend, people in the capital went on the rampage after rumours that two people had been kidnapped by the sect. One church was burnt down.

Senior UCKG officials have refused to comment on the allegations and ban.

“The decision has been precipitated to allow for investigations into allegations, which we consider serious,” Home Affairs Secretary Peter Mumba told reporters on Tuesday, AFP reports.

In the Lusaka Post, Mumba adds that there is “something fishy” with the church, but admits that a claimed mortuary under the church building is in fact a car park.

Meanwhile, the Pagan Prattle logs a sequel to these events in Kanyama, just outside Lusaka:

Kanyama residents yesterday shunned the HIV/AIDS voluntary, counselling and testing (VCT) preliminary HIV/AIDS function, for fear that their blood samples would be used for Satanism purposes.

Kanyama Member of Parliament Henry Mtonga said HIV/AIDS counsellors had faced resistance from the people in the area following last Saturday’s riots in which a church was accused of practising Satanism.

Mtonga added:

…it was important for people to distinguish between blood samples meant for VCT and those that were meant for alleged Satanism activities.

But why weren’t these claims “investigated” conclusively back in 1998, the last time the church was closed down? Anthropologist Rosalind Hackett has a very useful article on demonization in Africa available as a pdf. She notes that:

In Zambia, former church members of the Brazilian Pentecostal church, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, publicly alleged that ritual murderers operated from within the church with members being required to donate blood for satanic rituals. Similar indictments have been leveled at the Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon in Zambia by the Pentecostal churches there (Chanda, 2000: 1024).

A footnote adds:

After three years of operation in the country, the movement was proscribed (under section 17 of the Societies Act) in 1998 on the grounds that it had not operated ‘within the laws of the land’. See Namasiku Ilukena, ‘Zambia Church Banned for “Satanism”‘, Mail and Guardian, 9 September 1998. It is interesting that the public accusation of ‘satanism’ (as with accusations of’ ‘witchcraft’) had to be translated into a more neutral legal violation.

So why has this come around again, and why are people still shunning medical treatments over fears of Satanic blood rituals? And how come no-one in the media can think back seven years?

Zambian fear of Satanism has been around for a while. Back in 1997 Zambia News Online overviewed the subject, beginning with testimonies from a couple of alleged Satanic escapees. Just like the way Satanic panic in the west began with stories from self-styled “Satanic survivors” such as Mike Warnke, things snowballed from there (emphasis added):

“This message first came in February,” says Christian Unity Ministries (CUMI), national secretary Timothy Situmbeko of the alleged plot by Satanists to take over Zambia and destroy Christian institutions in Zambia. “We hesitated to tell the people about it, but continued to pray. Then early this month it was repeated.” He added that there had been at least one Satanist planted in some of the many born-again churches in an effort to derail the Christian faith and cause divisions.

Africa Church of God leader, Bishop John Mambo agrees that there is a plot to destroy Christianity in Zambia. He contends that many cults have been formed in the disguise of churches and already deep divisions are beginning to show among the Christians.

Police spokesman Standwell Lungu says that there is no law that would bar Satanists from practising their faith, but the concern of many Christians is that the devil’s faith is said to include human sacrifices.

“Christians must be ready for attacks from the devil,” Zambia Episcopal Conference Secretary General, Father Ignatius Mwebe says.

Politicians also jumped on the bandwagon:

The National Democratic Party (NDP) recently stated that the MMD government was not doing enough to curb the spread of Satanism. NDP Copperbelt Province chairman Isaac Chileshe said that government should investigate increasing reports of Satanism taking root in Zambia. The party contends that the seeds of Satanism were being planted by foreigners and it demands that the government deports those involved.

Zambia was famously declared to be a “Christian nation” back in 1991. A few years later Venkatesh Seshamani of the University of Zambia recalled

…the attempt, very soon after Chiluba made his Declaration, to ban Islamic programmes from television and radio. Besides one cannot forget the Livingstone episode a few years ago in which the Hindu temple and the Islamic mosque were destroyed.

These events may not be directly linked to the Declaration and may have been caused by other motives. But the danger that all non-Christian religious or spiritual practices may be branded as dangerous or as satanic cults cannot be ruled out.

The last two pages of Hackett’s essay outline possibilities for why Satanic discourses are so popular in Africa:

…For a leading member of the Christian Council of Kenya the ‘rise of satanism’ can explain not just cannibalism and human sacrifice, but also drug abuse, rape, kidnaping, divorce, and ghastly road and train accidents.28 Is this not a form of externalization, of not assuming responsibility for problems, and unscrupulously manipulating popular opinion? A classic example of this would be former Zambian President Chiluba’s claim that in declaring Zambia a Christian nation in 1991 he ‘provoked the devil’ who had been fighting him ever since, and causing him many political and economic problems.

More generally, Hackett concludes:

…Much more research needs to be done on the multivalency of the satanic paradigm in contemporary African contexts, its communicative networks, its gendered aspects, and implicit political and social critique.

By both scholars and journalists, one might add – and the odd blogger.

UPDATE: The Swazi Observer gives further details about the church in southern Africa:

Madagascar banned the church in February this year and jailed four senior officials for the burning of bibles.

…Despite a wide outcry by Christians in South Africa over the church, local pastors said they were not aware of its alleged wayward activities.

…The church is said to have established itself in 22 countries in Africa.

Articles that taint its image have also been written in neighbouring Mozambique and American newspapers, linking it to money laundering and drug-smuggling. All have been refuted by the church and several investigations have come to naught.

The South African Star Newspaper said the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA) said it was investigating the church for its alleged uncouth practices.

Namibia, meanwhile, is refusing to act against the church – see my entry here.