Friday, January 09, 2009

The Follies of Religion

The Follies of Religion: Market in Albino Body Parts

Thomas Riggins

The New York Times (1-3-08) reports that there is a market in central Africa for the body parts of albinos [“Burundi: Albino Boy Killed for Parts.’) Agence France Presse says an eight year old albino boy was killed by three men with machetes who made off with his limbs. The men are believed to be associated with witch doctors who prize albino body parts to make magical charms as the local religious beliefs held by many central Africans teach that albinos “have magical powers.”

Kassim Kazungu of the Burundi Albino Association reported the crime to the press. The killing of albinos has been on the rise in the last year. Six albinos have been killed in Burundi since september. The body parts are thought to go to witch doctors in Tanzania. AFP reports, “In Tanzania, at least 35 albinos, mostly women and children, were killed in 2008, according to the Tanzania Albino Society.”

This is another example of the follies of religion and the harmful results that occur when society does not properly educate its members in a scientific world outlook. There is no more scientific evidence that albinos have magical powers than that a person can walk on water, be reincarnated, go instantly to paradise by blowing oneself up in a crowd of people, or that God has given you special property rights to certain lands (owned by other people) yet these beliefs motivate millions around the world.

Most of the deeds done under these motivations are not of the highest moral caliber. I suggest that all junior high students be required to read “Why I am not a Christian” by Bertrand Russell and given the assignment to extrapolate his arguments to fit non Christian religions. This may not put an end to religion (I fear not) but open a few minds and mitigate many of the unsavory practices we see in the daily press.

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