Modern Witch Burning Shock

I just saw this pop up on my Twitter feed from Derren Brown about a US magician who was set alight by the host of TV show in the Domican Republic. Here is a link to the article and details are still very sketchy but apparently, the host ignited a liquid that is used to exorcise witches, and threw it over the head of US magician Wayne Houchin.

Wayne suffered severe burns and is currently in hospital though he has just Tweeted that he may not be permanently scarred. Doesn’t matter, he could have been killed. This is such a strange attack as the host seems to offer assistance but we are assured that this was not a stunt to get publicity. Derren Brown tweets that the host set fire to Wayne to rid him of evil spirits. It doesn’t look like a stunt and so reminds me of the blog I wrote about modern beliefs in witches and the horrific examples of witch burning in Africa as shown in this distressing footage. WARNING – NSFL . So it is not just, primitive, uneducated natives in Africa who don’t know better (BTW I am being deliberately facetious!) but also Westernized, presumably well-educated TV presenters.

Here is another blog that provides more details and a translation of the statement released after the attack.


November 30, 2012 · 1:43 pm

8 responses to “Modern Witch Burning Shock

  1. Following the link to your April 2009 post, I was intrigued by the following passage: “With regard to the murder of elderly tribe members condemned as witches, commentators have accused religion and supernatural belief as being primarily responsible for such acts but I question whether these acts are more to do with poverty and desperation in a lawless society or one that permits such behavior. ”

    I think you’re right that religion is not necessarily always to blame in these cases, but surely superstition and any other kinds of “magical thinking” are.
    You showed in “Supersense” how we humans have evolved a predisposition to such thinking, but through scientific education, large numbers of us (though evidently still not enough) now know better. Yes, some of us retain irrational attachments to inanimate objects etc. but I see these as the last vestiges of an ignorant, superstitious past.

    The problem with religion, even the relatively mild and moderate christianity found here in the UK, is that it legitimises a certain level of magical thinking. Even moderates, who realise that the biblical myths of creation or the garden of Eden are at best symbolic, must still cling to the tennets of virgin birth and resurrection, for without these, Christianity is no more than an excuse to visit nice old buildings and sing songs.

    Of course, our moderately religious friends and neighbours are rightly as outraged by these shocking events as we are, and see no link between their cosy and perhaps mostly cultural weekly participation in religion. But many of these barbaric acts now decried as fundamentalist lunacy, are explicitly described in the religious texts from which they piously read every week in the church or mosque.

    “Ah but that’s a mis-interpretation of the text!” they will cry, having heard this counter-argument somewhere before, but never having bothered to actually check for themselves how clear and explicit these passages really are.

    Admittedly, I’m not aware of any specific references to witch-burning in the bible, Qu’ran or Hadiths, but that such people should be put to death appears with nauseating consistency.

    • brucehood

      I think that belief systems are used to legitimize aggression against out-group members and such acts typically increase during difficult economic times. When there is limited resources or a power struggle, then group aggression and persecutions increase.

  2. Kylie S.

    I can’t watch this video. Saw the stills, that was bad enough.

    • brucehood

      Totally, understand. Some people get off on torture/death porn and I am not advocating that people watch this stuff. I also worry that interest from the internet spurs these murderers to commit these terrible acts. But I think that we need to know what goes on in order to try and put a stop to it.

  3. Pingback: Witch burning with “like-minded” « Salem Witch Hunt

  4. geekocrat

    I am not an expert but I am telling you that modern witch burning exists not just in poor countries but in the USA and Britain. Horrible Medevil practises are still carried out by white well educated christian westerners. I know of some of these atrocities in the UK where I live but many take place in secret and it is difficult to prove. Many cults practice and kill people in secret outside of the law.

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