[The] belief in the efficacy of the scapegoat and the sacrificial killing of other people is almost universal among human beings whose minds are still dominated by the quackery of magic and superstition. Here are one or two examples which show the working of the savage mind.
“Occasionally the scapegoat is a man. For example, from time to time the gods used to warn the King of Uganda that his foes the Bunyoro were working magic against him and his people to make them die of disease. To avert such catastrophe the king would send a scapegoat to the frontier of Bunyoro, the land of the enemy. The scapegoat consisted of either a man and a boy or a woman and a child, chosen because of some mark or bodily defect, which the gods had noted and by which the victims were to be recognized. With the human victims were sent a cow, a goat, a fowl, and a dog: and a strong guard escorted them to the land which the god had indicated. There the limbs of the victims were broken and they were left to die a lingering death in the enemy’s country, being too crippled to crawl back to Uganda. The disease or plague was thought to have been transferred to the victims and to have been conveyed back in their persons to the land from which it came.”
Frazer, The Golden Bough, p.565
“The scapegoat upon whom the sins of the people are periodically laid , may also be a human being. At Onitsha, on the Niger, two human beings used to be annually sacrificed to take away the sins of the land. The victims were purchased by public subscription. . . . The money thus collected was taken into the interior of the country and expended in the purchase of two sickly persons ‘to be offered as a sacrifice for all these abominable crimes-one for the land and one for the river’. A man from a neighboring town was hired to put them to death. On the twenty- seventh of February 1858 the Rev J.C. Taylor witnessed the sacrifice of one of these victims. The sufferer was a woman about nineteen or twenty years of age. They dragged her alive along the ground, face downwards, from the king’s house to the river, a distance of two miles, the crowds who accompanied her crying; ‘wickedness! wickedness!’ The intention was ‘to take away the iniquities of the land. The body was dragged along the ground in a merciless manner, as if the weight of all their wickedness was thus carried away.’ Similar customs are said to be still secretly practised every year by many tribes of the delta of the Niger in spite of the British Government.
Frazer, The Golden Bough, p.569
And now similar customs are practised not only secretly by the savages of the Niger, but openly in many countries of Europe. If the Re. J.C. Taylor could have visited Munich and Berlin, Moscow and Leningrad, Rome and several other cities of Europe during the last ten years, he might of observed almost exactly the same kind of ceremonies being publicly performed as those which in 1858 probably shocked him at Onitsha. He might have seen the scapegoats being dragged along the ground “in a merciless manner” and the crowds in the streets crying “wickedness! wickedness! And he would have observed that in one city the scapegoats were the capitalists and the bourgeoisie, in another the socialists and the communists, in another the liberals and the pacifists, and in yet another the Jews. And if he had been astonished at the “merciless” or as the Nazis prefer to call it, “ruthless” manner in which the scapegoats were being treated, Sir James Frazer would have rightly pointed out to him that “the consideration of human suffering is not one which enters into the calculations of primitive man.”
Frazer, The Golden Bough, p.652
Leonard Woolf; Quack Quack (Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc ©1935) p. 97-99
It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
No sciences are better attested than the religion of the Bible.
Sir Isaac Newton
There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.
George Bernard Shaw
One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in, and yours is Success.
Sir James Matthew Barrie