e g r e g o r e s

"Graciously bestow upon all men felicity, the summit of which is the knowledge of the Gods." [Julian, Oration to the Mother of the Gods]

>You might be a Pagan if ….

>Here are the criteria that the Pew Forum researchers used to determine the extent to which a person in Sub-Saharan Africa is influenced by Traditional African Religion:

Beliefs:
1. the protective power of certain spiritual people
2. the power of sacred objects and shrines
3. the evil eye
4. witchcraft
5. evil spirits
6. the protective power of sacrificial offerings to ancestors and other spirits
7. reincarnation
Practices:
1. visiting traditional healers
2. possession of sacred objects
3. participation in ceremonies to honor ancestors
4. participation in puberty ceremonies

Those reporting 6 or more of these attributes were considered by Pew to have “high levels of traditional African religious beliefs and practices.” They found that in the 19 countries surveyed, which comprise over 75% of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa (see map), that one in four Africans meet these criteria.

But this means that in theory a person could (1) believe in the protective power of sacrifices, (2) belief in the power of sacred objects, (3) have a traditional shrine in their own home, (4) regularly participate in traditional ceremonies, and (5) regularly make use of traditional healers, but still not be considered to have a “high level of traditional belief and practice”!!

The Pew researchers appear to have gone out of their way to cook the books in order to minimize the continued importance of Traditional African Religions. They exclude anyone who (1) does not believe in any form of malefic magic, and who (2) also doesn’t meet any two of the other criteria. They provide no justification for breaking out belief in “the evil eye”, “witchcraft” and “evil spirits” as separate categories, when obviously are closely interrelated.

Compare this crude and intentionally misleading “analysis” with the loving attention that the Pew study pays to meticulously differentiating 8 different varieties of Protestantism, including several that have fewer adherents than Traditional African Religions (see their analysis of “religious affiliation” here, and also see their chart below). It is transparently obvious that this report reflects the biases of Luis Lugo, Director of the Pew Religion Forum, who is a right-wing fundamentalist Christian.

Other posts on Traditional African Religions:
You might be a Pagan if …. (Part Deux)
Every picture tells a story
Traditional African Religions Continue To Thrive
More On Traditional African Religions

Fela Kuti and Traditional African Religion
Secret Knowledge, Sacred Knowledge (on Candomble)

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