Charter of the Coalition
Our Identity — who are we?
SCWA is a coalition of individuals and agencies responding to the reality of children experiencing serious harm or the threat of harm due to accusations of witchcraft or belief in malevolent spiritual influence.
Our vision is to play our part in ending accusations of witchcraft against children and the resulting harm, so that all children can be nurtured, valued, and kept safe within their churches and communities, living a life free from fear, full of hope and opportunity.
We work by influencing churches to engage with harmful beliefs and practices. We empower leaders to guide their church congregations and communities through a learning process, which helps people to explore and apprehend the roots, implications and consequences of such attitudes and actions.
We link with other agencies and people who share this common vision. We encourage and support research to enhance understanding and to inform advocacy and practice. We develop skills–training tools and awareness–raising resources, to equip church leaders with an essential grounding in theology, the law, and child development. We share methods and approaches proven to bring about a positive transformational change.
Our Values — what do we stand for?
We observe that many accusations of witchcraft against children, and the ensuing harm or threat of harm to children, arise in settings where the groups and individuals involved would identify themselves as part of the worldwide church. We perceive that these accusations occur within a framework of belief and practice incompatible with godly values and actions as demonstrated in the life of Christ, which may be due to either ignorance or wilful defiance of what the scriptures require of followers of Christ.
We observe also that the harm caused to children and stigma conferred on them as a result of such accusations is in violation of their inalienable human rights, as defined in international conventions, [ i ] and in denial of their inherent needs and against their welfare, as identified in human developmental studies. [ ii ]
We will challenge all church leaders and members as followers of Christ to reject any interpretation of scripture which advocates harm or threat of harm towards children in any form and for any reason. We will spur on churches to accept a robustly defensible position with regard to appropriately handling issues of malevolent spiritual influence and supernatural engagement, ensuring that at all times in what we think and say of children, they are esteemed with the dignity and respect accorded to them by Christ.
We will appeal to all church leaders and members as followers of Christ to desist immediately from any practices that cause harm or threat of harm towards children. We will call on churches to adopt and comply with safe and supportive policies with regard to how children are treated within their sphere of influence, so ensuring that at all times in our actions towards children, they are treated with the kindness and care shown to them by Christ.
at a Community level…
We will expect for each congregation together, as a community of followers of Christ to:
- promote this positive understanding of how God values children and seeks to be represented to them within their wider local communities; and
- interact with children (both outside and inside the congregation) in a way that pleases Christ; and so
- ensure that congregations will be a place of security and sanctuary for children, welcoming their presence and celebrating their contribution; and
- seek to advocate within their communities, with and on behalf of children who suffer violence and abuse of any kind, in order to bring about justice and change for good.
at a Personal level…
We will carry an expectation that each congregation will require individual followers of Christ to:
- endorse this positive understanding of how God values children and seeks to be represented to them; and
- interact with children (both in public and in private settings) in a way that pleases Christ; and so
- ensure that their members and leaders will be people who protect and defend children, nurturing them to grow and encouraging them to flourish.
We are motivated to action through a shared concern to end the abuse and stigmatisation suffered by thousands of children who are accused of witchcraft.
We believe that no child should ever suffer in this way. We believe that churches have a significant role to play in ending these abuses against children.
We contribute to the development of effective practical responses, and training and advocacy resources, adaptable for use in different localities and contexts.
We facilitate dialogue between local people and within local forums, supporting communities to come to their own understandings of this problem and how best to address it.
We know that many people around the world share these motivations and convictions in respect of this issue. We seek to connect with others who have expertise of the issue of child witchcraft accusations, or who have experience of effective ways to combat similar harmful beliefs and practices.
[ i ] Notably: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Geneva: 1989), OAU African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Addis Ababa: 1990), and relevant articles in: SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia (Kathmandu: 2002), Counsel of Europe Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights (Strasbourg: 1996)
[ ii ] Notably: Vygotsky (sociocultural theory), Piaget (socialisation, cognitive development, learning processes), Mead (cultural patterning), Erikson (psychosocial development), Maslow (hierarchy of needs), Bowlby (attachment theory), Bronfenbrenner (ecological systems theory), Kohlberg (moral development), Bandura (social learning theory)
original release: March 2014
current revision: February 2017