The revelation by his political opponents last year that Barack Obama may not actually be a US citizen and is perhaps a Muslim or, even worse, a socialist, has made it difficult to tell the difference between fact, fantasy and conspiracy theory in the run up to the US Presidential election.
Republican contenders for the job are taking the need to demonstrate their patriotic credibility very seriously. Newt Gingrich, for example, has expressed his intention to colonise the moon. “By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American”, he promised his supporters. A difficult act to follow, you might think. But no, not if you have God on your side.
Space oddities come no odder than his opponent, Mitt Romney. He believes that with God’s help he, too, can boldly go where no man has gone before and solve America’s problems.
As a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – a Mormon bishop in fact, he believes that the baptism of the dead to bring them into the Church is a sensible idea, and is guided in life by the ‘Book of Mormon’. The contents of this amazing volume were revealed to the church’s founder, Joseph Smith (who had 30 wives and was killed in a prison shootout) on golden plates and written in a mysterious language known as ‘Reformed Egyptian’ by an angel named Moroni. Fortunately, with the help of a pair of magical crystal spectacles, Smith was able to translate it into English.
In case that is not enough to convince voters of Romney’s suitability for the job, he believes, too, that God lives on a planet called Kolob and he wears special Mormon underpants. (Romney wears the special underpants, that is, not God). And if you want more details, or wish to order a pair, visit www.mormon-underwear.com.
So as Americans decide whether their future lies in a colony on the moon or in special underpants from planet Kolob, you may wonder whether things can get any more bizarre. Well unfortunately, yes, they can. While the space centre in Houston contemplates its future missions to Newt’s moon base and Planet Kolob, a strange object in the shape of ‘Lady Apostle Helen Ukpabio’ is hurtling asteroid-like towards them and is due to collide in March. And when it comes to cranky ‘out of this world’ ideas the Lady Apostle makes Gingrich and Romney look like mere space cadets.
She is a preacher from Nigeria with her own church who specialises in casting out witches, particularly from children. For her 12 day visit to Houston in March she promises deliverance from (amongst other things) bondage, bad dreams, witchcraft attacks, mermaid and other evil spirit possession, untimely deaths, lack of promotion, financial impotency and chronic and incurable disease.
All good, clean harmless fun? Well unfortunately no. Helen Ukpabio is no joke. In her book Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft she explains how to identify a child witch. “If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan”, she advises. Her teachings are said to have contributed to the torture or abandonment of thousands of Nigerian children. “Suffer the little children” as the good book has it.