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African neopentecostals battle witchcraft in the West

24 December 2007
A few days ago I noted that neopentecostals in West Africa seemed to be turning to witchhunts, which appeared to be different from the Christian responses to witchcraft and sorcery found among Christians in Southern and Eastern Africa.According to this article, similar concerns are being manifested among neopentecostal churches in the African diaspora in the USA. They have also been reported from Britain.
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Founded by a Congolese couple, Spiritual Warfare is one of many ministries and congregations in the growing African diaspora in the United States and abroad grappling with witchcraft. In most other churches, Sangamay said, you could not even raise the issue, let alone pray to combat its effects.

Those other churches may argue that such a focus on witchcraft is a relic of Africans’ old beliefs, a dangerously pagan preoccupation. But scholars say this is Christianity made profoundly African. Spiritual Warfare considers itself Pentecostal, and like many other Pentecostals, worshipers see the battle between God and Satan, or what they also call the Bible against witchcraft, shaping the world.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelli Stowe permalink
    24 February 2008 10:34 am

    In a small town in Nigeria called Esit Eket Evangelical pastors are helping to create a terrible new campaign of violence against young Nigerians. Children and babies branded as evil are being abused, abandoned and even murdered while the preachers make money out of the fear of their parents and their communities.

    I have created three petitions protesting against this horrible act that these pastors are doing to these precious children. Please consider signing them.

    Children are targets of Nigerian witch hunt

    Stop Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries of Nigeria from hurting anymore precious children for money.

    Stop the churches in Nigeria from endangering children’s lives to extort money from there parents.

    Thank you for your post.

  2. 4 April 2008 10:41 am

    As Kelli says (and you implied in your article in Theandros), these beliefs are a dangerous amalgam of the worst of tribal beliefs and the worst of Christian beliefs. African “witchcraft” beliefs are quite different from European ones (medieval or modern), so there is no analogy. European witchcraft persecutions were based on misogyny and caused by the dissolution of the monasteries (which had previously taken care of the poor, who were now left to roam and beg). See Keith Thomas’s magnum opus, Religion and the Decline of Magic. African “witchcraft” persecutions have very different social causes and different underlying beliefs.

  3. 4 April 2008 3:51 pm


    The more I study it, the more similarities I see between African and European witchcraft, at least in the premodern period. The differences between Africa and Europe are no greater than the differences between one part of Africa and another, and one part of Europe and another.

    European understandings of witchcraft changed quite radically in the late medieval and early modern period, and changed once again after the Enlightenment. I believe we are seeing similar (though not identical) changes in African understandings of witchcraft, as modernity affects African society more deeply.

    I find it hard to believe that European understandings were changed by the dissolution of the monasteries. One needs to look at the time frame. The Malleus Maleficarum was published before the dissolution of the monasteries, and monasteries continued in many places. I think rather that the changing understanding of witchcraft and the dissolution of the monasteries may have had common underlying causes.

  4. 12 April 2008 7:51 am

    Witchcraft is not about imposing your will onto others. It is certainly about influencing the energies to bring you what you desire – not at the expense of another’s free will or knowingly causing another harm. When you practice witchcraft you are to come from a place of positive intent.

  5. Ps. Linnie Harris permalink
    18 July 2008 2:54 am

    I recently returned from Nigeria – Calabar – Akampa – Eket. I was sent by Our Lord after many visions prior to leaving Australia. Single white woman solo mission to Nigeria – all thought I was crazy. The false Pastors using Our Lords name in Vain is disgracful, I revealed some in public. Witchcraft I saw in Churches – children living in streets – poverty stricken. Witnessed in Church one of the choir girls, as we were praying angrily put her hands around the pastors throat and tried to strangle him! witchcract among most of the choir. I had armed guards with me the whole month I was there. My coffee was made with water they Nigerians would not even drink themselves! this happened after I revealed them.The pastors of these churches dress in Piere Cardin clothing, and they say they are poor, what about their members of the churches. I sincerly want to help the “honest pastors to build a orphanage for these children. I am struggling to support a pure Church in Akampa, but to do it with out support is difficult. I am happy to hear from anyone, who would like to see pictures of all I witnessed in Nigeria.

  6. Ps. Linnie Harris permalink
    11 August 2008 4:44 am

    I have just returned from Nigeria – I preached in Calabar – Akampa – Eket.
    Corruption and dishonesty I witnessed. I am currently putting DVD together to show the world of decent Pastors to corrupt ones. If you would like to email me, and I will give u much more. I met the Commissioner of Police, who is Born Again, and the Lord gave me a prophetic word for him- he shed tears, and we hugged. He gave me armed guards for all my trip. Sadly he was posted to another area, and we lost contact. Has anyone been to Akampa
    Cheers Linnie

  7. 20 February 2009 12:12 am

    Hi all,
    I returned to Calabar November 08, and whilst there is much corruption still, I proceeded to my calling, which is helping victims of leprosy and kids who have been accussed of witchcraft who are hungry and living in the wilderness. I have some great footage on all, ( see charles)All came to pass. It was so nice to meet with honest people. I was granted 50 acres of land in Akamkpa, where the Lord had first called me April 08. I also was on TV, radio and met the new King of Calabar. Check my web site out for all prophecies.Guys, I have not been called to go to South Africa for 6 months, and hope to get some air time on Christian TV, anyone got any ideas, sure could do with some help. Trying to raise money for Africa, Nigeria is real hard.
    God Bless you all

  8. Mark permalink
    3 January 2010 4:59 pm

    Linnie,your report on your visit to Nigeria is quite interesting.Please pay us regular visits to enlighten our Pastors or the so-called ”men of God”.


  1. Witchcraft, African and European « Khanya
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