Unreal: Witchcraft, Penis thievery, and lynchings, Oh my!

From Reuters via Yahoo News:

Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

“You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We’ve had a number of attempted lynchings. … You see them covered in marks after being beaten,” Kinshasa‘s police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

“I’m tempted to say it’s one huge joke,” Oleko said.

“But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it’,” he said.

Survey: What is more awe-striking: these sorts of extreme mythical beliefs in a relatively isolated part of the world that has minimal access to the views of other religions and to science and secular thinking – and thus, where inherited ways of thinking can exist with relatively few direct challenges – or Young Earth Creationism in the scientifically, pluralistically, and philosophically access-rich Western world? I’m actually going with the latter.

Another survey question: this Congo story versus religious moderation in the West; what is more awe-striking, religious moderation in America (e.g., liberal Christians that believe in Christ but take little within the Bible to be literal), or full-blown mythical obsession like that just reported in the Congo?

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