By Leo Igwe
To most Americans, witch hunting ended in Salem centuries ago. They assume this dark age practice has no place in contemporary America. But is that really the case? I do not think so. Witchcraft accusation is going on at least in some migrant communities across the country. There are clear indications that many African churches are prosecuting a ‘silent war’ against ‘witches’ in the name of practicing Christianity. These churches are recharging witchcraft narratives in African migrant communities. African pentecostal pastors are spreading witchcraft-based fears, panic and hysteria, fueling witchcraft suspicions and insinuations, and inciting hatred and violence against vulnerable members of the population.
Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) is one church that is prosecuting a modern day witch hunt in North America. The church’s crusade against witchcraft should, as a matter of urgency, be brought to the attention of the ‘enlightened world’.
MFM is a Nigerian church with branches across North America – in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York etc. Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya founded it in 1989. The church draws its teachings from the Founder’s numerous books and sermons including his publications on witchcraft.
In one of his books, Overpowering Witchcraft (2010), Pastor Olukoya provides ‘sound biblical teachings’ on his ‘Ministry of Witchcraft’. He claims that manifestations of witchcraft are based in the Scriptures and can be revealed by God.
Olukoya associates witchcraft with prostitution and multiple deaths. He uses fake and fabricated stories and testimonies to illustrate the potency of witchcraft and how mothers-in-law use occult powers to undermine marriages and fuel problems in families. He states that the function of witchcraft is ”to bend what is straight, make it crooked. They change and refashion things to conform to their wicked intentions.” (p.9)
Olukoya declares that ”many intellectuals, well disciplined people and morally upright men and women, are being carefully and intelligently controlled by witchcraft spirit”. On the back cover, it states ”The destructive and competitive nature of witchcraft has done so much damage wherever they are found. Witchcraft is more complicated than we think. Witchcraft uses demonic influences to subdue and undo another. Good people are being controlled and manipulated by witchcraft weapons. Many are battling right now and have not been able to discern exactly is happening to them. Many are unconscious witches with death sentences hanging on their heads.” The author goes on to ask ”Are you being tormented by evil intelligent network? Are you being denied from enjoying your divine benefits? Have you been caged by failures on the edge of breakthroughs, profitless hard work, spiritual stagnancy, chain problems, prayer paralysis and general backwardness?” Obviously, he attributes all these problems to witchcraft.
The entire book drips with alarmist messages and passages which church members and other witch-believing folks could use to legimitize witchcraft accusation and witch persecution. A quick look on the church’s North American web site reveals how Olukoya’s teachings have been translated into “Deliverance Prayers from Witchcraft Prayers Points and Message.” The anti witchcraft prayer points are divided into several parts.
The first category contains prayers against the witchcraft pot. Some of the prayers read as follows:
1. I break every witchcraft pot over my life, in the name of Jesus. 2. Let every evil pot hunt their owners, in the name of Jesus. 3. Every wicked pot cooking my affairs, be roasted, in the name of Jesus.4. Every witchcraft pot working against me, I bring the judgment of God against you, in Jesus name.
The second part contains prayers against ‘witchcraft burial’. It says:
1. Every operation of witchcraft burial in my life be reversed now, in the in name of Jesus. 2. Every witchcraft burial against my marriage be reversed now, in the name of Jesus.3. 0 Lord, let the power of witchcraft burial against my finances be reversed now in the name of Jesus. 4. 0 Lord, let the power of be witchcraft burial against my progress be nullified in the name of Jesus.
The next session contains prayers against ‘witchcraft verdict’
2. You witchcraft foundation in my life be dismantled by fire, in the name of Jesus. 3. Every witchcraft money spent on my behalf, be withdrawn by fire. 4. Every witchcraft law over my life, vanish by fire, in the name of Jesus. 5. Every witchcraft/herbalist coven harboring my womb receive the fire of God and be roasted, in Jesus name. 6. Every monthly monitoring of my womb by witchcraft power be dissolved by fire. 7. Every bi-monthly monitoring of my womb by witchcraft power, be dissolved by fire, in the name of Jesus. 8. Every witchcraft verdicts against my life, turn against your sender, in the name of Jesus. 9. You curse of bitterness issued against my life by witchcraft spirits, be broken in the name of Jesus. 10. Your curse of desolation issued against my womb, ovary, fallopian tubes by witchcraft, be broken by the blood of Jesus. 11. You curse of miscarriages issued against my womb, break by fire, in the name of Jesus. 12. Every verdict of witchcraft be nullified, in the name of Jesus.
Another part of the prayer point is for the destruction of the ”traveling routes of witchcraft”:
1. Let life-choking thorns begin to grow on the traveling route of my household witchcraft, in Jesus name. 2. Let the traveling-routes of my household witchcraft become their burying places, in the name of Jesus. 3. Let the angel of destruction continually minister on any route of witchcraft that is fashioned against me, in Jesus name. 4. Let any witchcraft route constructed against me become dark and slippery, in the name of Jesus.
The remaining sessions contain prayers against the ‘Communication and Transportation Systems of witchcraft’, prayers for the destruction of the altars of witchcraft, prayers for ”Breaking Witchcraft Curses”, prayers for the destruction of the covens of witchcraft and the hold of marine witchcraft, prayers for vomiting the food of witchcraft, prayers for destroying the infirmity of witchcraft and for plucking out the eyes of witchcraft, prayers for dismantling witchcraft embargo on financies and prayers for the destruction of the Throne of witchcraft.
No one should think that these are just innocuous prayer points with no effects on people’s minds and actions. They are not. These prayer points are texts and manuals for witchcraft accusation and witch finding. They produce and reinforce witchcraft stereotypes and shape how people make sense of their day to day experiences.
Critical-thinking Americans need to realize the potentially dangerous nature of Olukoya’s ‘Ministry of Witchcraft’ and take action against this violent brand of Christianity which MFM embodies before it is too late. American skeptics and freethinkers need to provide a counter narrative to MFM’s witch crusade. They should not stand by and allow a slow undoing and erosion of the gains of enlightenment and a re-enactment of the Salem witch trials. Olukoya’s Ministry of Witchcraft has no place in contemporary America and in the contemporary world. Witch hunting by African migrant churches must stop. Witch hunting pastors must be stopped.