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Pastor Muthee: A Real Witchhunter, All Right

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League seems to think that Pastor Thomas Muthee, the self-proclaimed witchhunter who prayed over Sarah Palin in that video — and who Palin credits with her electoral success — is simply an exotic African kind of Christian evangelist doing God’s work in his own peculiarly cultural way:

“Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee’s blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that—Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed?

“We know that many cultural elites have a hard time embracing religion, but is it too much to ask that they at least show some manners when discussing subjects which most Americans hold dear?”

That would be all well and good if the "witchcraft" that Pastor Muthee became famous for pursuing were truly some kind of Dark Art from the Dark Continent, bent on the persecution of Christians (though it would be good of him to present some actual examples of said "witches" too).

But Muthee’s pursuit of "witchcraft" had a more familial resemblance to Salem. From the Times of London:

According to the Christian Science Monitor, six months of fervent prayer and research identified the source of the witchcraft as a local woman called Mama Jane, who ran a “divination” centre called the Emmanuel Clinic.

Her alleged involvement in fortune-telling and the fact that she lived near the site of a number of fatal car accidents led Pastor Muthee to publicly declare her a witch responsible for the town’s ills, and order her to offer her up her soul for salvation or leave Kiambu.

Says the Monitor, “Muthee held a crusade that “brought about 200 people to Christ”.” They set up round-the-clock prayer intercession in the basement of a grocery store and eventually, says the pastor “the demonic influence – the ‘principality’ over Kiambu –was broken”, and Mama Jane fled the town.

According to accounts of the witchhunt circulated on evangelical websites such as Prayer Links Ministries, after Pastor Muthee declared Mama Jane a witch, the townspeople became suspicious and began to turn on her, demanding that she be stoned. Public outrage eventually led the police to raid her home, where they fired gunshots, killing a pet python which they believed to be a demon.

After Mama Jane was questioned by police – and released – she decided it was time to leave town, the account says.

So when Pastor Muthee prays for Sarah Palin’s protection from "the power of witchcraft," it is with a, shall we say, expansive view of what constitutes "witchcraft." And when he demands we "crush the python spirit" and "step on its neck," you have to wonder whose necks they’re talking about. Democrats? Lyda Green? Anyone who opposes Sarah Palin and her "infiltration" of the "political realm"?

And when Bill Donohue defends a "witchhunt" of the kind Muthee purused in Kenya … well, it’s not very persuasive. After all, this is the same guy who insisted that Mel Gibson wasn’t really anti-Semitic.

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David Neiwert

David Neiwert

David Neiwert is the managing editor of Firedoglake. He's a freelance journalist based in Seattle and the author/editor of the blog Orcinus. He also is the author of Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, June 2005), as well as Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), and In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press). His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000.