Regulators assessing concerns over charities referring to ‘black magic’ and ‘witchcraft’

16 Apr 2024 News

By bank_jay / Adobe

Charity regulators have said they are assessing concerns raised about three recently-registered charities that have referred to witchcraft, black magic and exorcism practices.

This week, the National Secular Society (NSS) posted a blog claiming that the charities were “stoking fear of black magic” and promoting exorcism.

It referred to recently-registered East Birmingham Central Masjid, Cambridge Papers Limited and the Mountain Of Fire And Miracles Ministries Belfast.

The Charity Commission for England and Wales said it was assessing concerns about East Birmingham Central Masjid and Cambridge Papers Limited.

Meanwhile the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland said it was looking into concerns at the Mountain Of Fire And Miracles Ministries Belfast.

Charity warns of ‘menace of black magic’

East Birmingham Central Masjid has a section on its website that claims “the menace of black magic has grown disturbingly widespread” in our society. 

To combat it, it refers to its ruqyah service, which is an Islamic form of exorcism that claims to expel demons (known as jinn) from an individual. 

“It strives to protect our Muslim brothers and sisters from the snares of sorcerers and magicians”, the website reads. 

On its website, the charity writes that it aims to “illuminate the perilous indicators and symptoms of black magic, the evil eye, and jinn possession”. 

The charity did not respond to Civil Society’s request for comment. 

‘Increasing witchery in our society’

The NSS also raised concerns over the website of Cambridge Papers Limited, which has recently been registered as a charity. 

It raised issues with an article on the charity’s website that says “witchcraft is real” and “we need to beware of increasing witchery in our society”. 

Written in 2010 by Jonathon Burnside, a professor of biblical law at the University of Bristol, it says: “I use the generic term ‘witchcraft’ loosely in this paper to refer to engagement with the spirit world in ways that, in practice, ignore God’s reality.”

NSS also raised concerns over another article on the Christian charity’s website, written in 2012 by professor of law at the University of Bristol Julian Rivers, titled “the case for caution” and regarding the plans to legalise same-sex marriage.

The paper argues it risks breaking the connections between “marriage, childbearing and kinship” and children becoming the “ultimate accessories” which are subject to their parents’ “agendas”.

A spokesperson from Cambridge Papers Limited told Civil Society: "The Cambridge Paper mentioned by the National Secular Society encourages people to avoid involvement in witchcraft and says that 'God has made us in his image … [and] wants us to enjoy and express our spiritual lives in ways that are creative and which enhance our humanity’.” 

A Charity Commission spokesperson said: “We are aware of concerns raised in the media about East Birmingham Central Masjid and Cambridge Papers Limited and are assessing the information available to us.

“This will determine if there is a role for the Commission, and any next steps.”

Belfast charity still being assessed

NSS also repeated its concerns about the Mountain Of Fire And Miracles Ministries Belfast, which had shared a social media post from a sermon that listed “five kinds of witches or familiar spirits”. 

Last July, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland confirmed it was looking into allegations that the Christian charity had shared content about witches on Facebook. 

The regulator said it could not provide any more information while the case is ongoing, as it would not want to prejudice any current or future investigations.

NSS: ‘Enabling charities to spread harm’

Campaigns officer at NSS, Alejandro Sanchez, said: “Charities are meant to benefit the public. But promoting the idea that some people can be ‘witches’ or possessed by evil spirits can lead to extreme harm to children and vulnerable adults.

“It’s yet another example of ‘the advancement of religion’ enabling charities to spread harm. This charitable purpose must be urgently reviewed.

“No charity, religious or otherwise, should be allowed to promote ideology which fuels spiritual abuse.”

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