Our Traditional Religions and Christianity – it’s Magic!
by Louis Tim Walsh (member of Humanist Association of Ghana)
Scene 1 Somewhere in a Ghanaian forest, lying on a mat is a woman named Ama. Dancing around Ama are two priests and priestesses of the Afrikan traditional religion (ATR), dressed in animal skins, a raffia skirt, beads, bodies painted and holding a white fowl and the bones of a goat. Speaking in a language unknown to humans, they call on bossum anchiwiri, the baobab tree God to cure Ama of her sickness.
As a Christian, what do you think of the ceremony described above?
Is it magic or idol worship? I don’t know, you tell me.
Scene 2 Some 25km from that forest, in a nearby city, a mini bus parks in front of a building. Three men dressed in suits rush into the building to join two other well dressed men holding Bibles and praying for a young man, Kofi, who’s sitting on a chair. Praying in English and with some speaking in tongues (a language unknown to humans) these Pastors call on Jesus, Holy Spirit and God to cure Kofi of his sickness.
So, is there any difference between the happenings in scenario 1 and 2? The answer is a big NO. Both are the same, yet Christians are quick to label the forest scene magic, idol worship, and un-Godly. Strip these so-called men of God/Pastors of their suits and Bibles and put them in animal skins with a few animal bones and beads and there you have an ATR priest ready to go to work. To put it bluntly Christian-church/faith-healing today has been and always will be “magic”.
Although the Preachers/Pastors vehemently deny any connection with the magic practice; their activities meet all the requirements for the definition. Any first-rate dictionary out there defines magic as 1) the use of means (such as ceremonies, amulets, charms, chants and spells) that are believed to have supernatural powers to make a supernatural being to produce or prevent a particular result (such as rain, death or healing) considered not obtainable by natural means or 2) A supposed supernatural power that gives somebody control over the forces of nature. Magic is used in many cultures for healing, keeping away evil, seeking the truth, and for vengeful purposes.
When Christians disturb communities with shouts of blood of Jesus and Holy Ghost fire, how is that different from shouting in the name of bossum jata? Christians are fond of labelling the rituals of ATR priests as demonic. Simply put, Christians share the same if not similar “DNA” with ATR priests and so they have no right to call such rituals un-Christian/un-Godly or magic.
Before I run off, I’d like to share a few things, a colleague, Selorm Gadagoe, was taught in Sunday school:
1) He was told it was devilish to revere and pour libation to his ancestors…but it is all right to use anointing oil and to burn incense and pray to the dead saints of the church and the son of God.
2) He was told stories of the exploits of his forefathers were ridiculous and highly exaggerated…but it is all right to believe in stories like Samson killing 1000 philistines with the jawbone of an ass, Jesus feeding 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish, a talking snake, a talking donkey and a tower that almost reached heaven.
3) He was told the festivals of his land were archaic and pagan…but it is all right to celebrate Christmas and Easter, festivals that were celebrated in honour of the sun god and fertility god respectively but have now been adopted by the church.
4) He was told it was demonic for an African priest to sacrifice an animal to the gods and ancestors…but it was all right to drink the symbolization of human blood and eat human flesh on a regular basis.
5) He was told to stay away from the religions of his land because of the multiplicity of deities…but it was all right to worship a 3 in 1 God.
6) He was told of how ruthless and callous the gods and ancestors of his land were and therefore deserved no praise from us…but it was all right to adore a God who drowned his own children for disobedience, endorsed slavery, genocide and sent a bear to kill 42 children because they mocked a bald man.
7) He was told you had to speak in tongues when the Holy Spirit descended on you…but an African priest who goes into a trance and starts speaking in an unknown language is speaking from the devil.
There you have it! Christianity is just recycled <>.