Children are increasingly victims of witchcraft accusations in Africa, egged on by some but by no means all Christian leaders there. (Indeed, this story was provided to me by a Evangelical Christian). Witchcraft, which is understood there and in many other places as engaging in Black Magick, has long been outlawed in many areas, but the focus on kids is new.
The Religious News Blog has additional information on this issue, including a downloadable UNICEF report. The site is Christian, but looks to me as if they try and provide accurate information without sexed up or lurid fantasies. Certainly that is true for the Evangelical who alerted me to it.
For modern Pagans seeking to connect with traditional indigenous peoples the issue of Witchcraft worldwide is a thorny one. On the one hand, missionaries and Christian authorities long called their traditional religions witchcraft and devil worship. On the other, baneful magick has long been an issue in traditional societies, and has been outlawed and often severely punished in many societies world wide. Making the issue even murkier, many elements of traditional practice intertwine with Christianity as practiced by indigenous peoples. For example, Brazil has often been described as 100% Christian and 90% Pagan (although that is lower now with inroads by Evangelicals). Getting clear about all this is a Gordian knot, but necessary in any quality connection with traditional indigenous people.
The issue is made all the more complicated because there is plenty of disagreement about just how real baneful magick really is. I won’t go into that here.
Regardless of how this latter issue is answered, that children are being dragged into ever deeper misery by witchcraft accusations is an appalling commentary on those Christians involved, particularly Pentecostals, charismatics and revivalists, as the UNICEF account makes clear (pp. 15-16, 33-37). To add to the kids’ misery, often the accusations are simply a way to get an inconvenient mouth to feed out of a poverty stricken household.
From the accounts I have read, while the problem is often but not exclusively with Christians, the people exposing and denouncing it on the front lines are also often Christians. I would wager that the traditionalists implicated in these crimes are simple charlatans making money off of others’ misery (37-9). But there are traditional precedents, although not widespread. . The issue here is less one’s religion than one’s decency as a human being and, for sincere witch-finders, their appalling judgment regarding their spiritual discernment and connections. It is also a disturbing sign of abuses that can happen when people have accepted a Magickal view of the world.
No matter what one’s view of the world, I think having heart gets you through it successfully and lacking heart leads to crime and suffering.