• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Lakeland Mega-Church Pastor Responds on NE Moses Links

A few weeks ago I wrote about Bishop NE Moses’ links with Ignited Church, a neo-Pentecostal megachurch in Lakeland, Florida. I noted in turn NE Moses’ links to Helen Ukpabio, who teaches that children can be “witches” who cause misfortune to others. The story was picked up Ed Brayton, who has now been contacted by Pastor Stephen Strader of Ignited. Strader finds Ed’s post “strongly offensive”, but he also has some substantive comments:

First – Bishop Moses was scheduled at my church but at the last minute he cancelled.

Second – He has been a LONG time friend – maybe 10 years – and he has NEVER mentioned anything about any of this witchcraft business. He has spoken in my church on several occasions and I have spoken at his church.

…Immediately upon hearing the accusations, I have contacted Bishop Moses, and his Bishop here in the USA and YOU. The USA Bishop had the SAME reaction as me. He has never even heard of this.

I have NOT heard back from Bishop Moses – but generally it takes weeks for him to answer emails.

…I DO want any and all information about this situation and I give you my word that I will follow up on this.

HOWEVER, I would appreciate a BLOG from you that states that as SOON as I heard of the situation, I contacted you and the Bishops involved and that I SCRIPTURALLY am pursuing the truths in this matter.

In relation to information, I can help Strader out here. The video below comes from Ukpabio’s consecration as a “Lady Apostle” last year. A few months prior to this event, members of Ukpabio’s church had attacked a conference on the subject of child-witchcraft stigmatisation; the organiser was the Nigerian sceptic Leo Igwe, and he was physically assaulted during the invasion. Moses praises the attack, as his whips up his audience into righteous anger against those who dare to suggest that the notion that a child can be a witch is nonsense:

You did the right thing. Listen, you did the right thing. We shall not run and get into our bedrooms. We shall not allow the enemy to take over. Do you understand what I’m saying?… The enemy is attacking! Witches attacking! Wizards attacking! Atheists attacking!

Here’s the incident that Moses is screaming about:

Ukpabio’s defence is that she merely “delivers” children from a kind of witchcraft “contamination” through a “mild” ritual; however, not everyone who believes that personal misfortune is the result of a “child-witch” will come to her church – and the belief in child-witches is currently causing immeasurable harm in parts of Nigerian and elsewhere in Africa (and of course, even a “mild” ritual involves an emotionally abusive bogus accusation). The notion of “child-witches” is not based on any Biblical text, and it goes against reason. The only way way child-witch stigmatisation will end will be when no-one takes such an idea seriously. Ukpabio, however, continues to teach the existence of child-witches; as well as sending her church members to attack Leo’s conference, she has denounced a hostel for children stigmatmised as witches as being run by a “wizard”, and she has tried to use the courts to shut down her critics. The “Lady Apostle” has also shown extreme emotional immaturity by endorsing a crude and abusive attack site registered by her webmaster.

If Moses deserves the title of “Bishop”, he will admit that he has made a mistake and repudiate Ukpabio and any notion of children as witches. Of course a pastor such as NE Moses and a humanist such as Leo Igwe have very different worldviews, but Moses is quite capable of understanding that a Christian is not always infallible, and that something is not necessarily untrue just because a humanist says it.

Ed challenges Strader:

Speak out publicly against this, not just in a Facebook message. Preach against it. Work with the Pentecostal organizations you belong to that include these African ministries to purge their ranks and stop promoting such people…