Steven Tari After his Arrest

Black Jesus, battered and bruised after his capture by villagers. Picture: The National, PNG

A few years ago I found myself in the jungles of Papua New Guinea listening to an extraordinary story – claims that a mythical tribal ‘messiah’ calling himself Black Jesus was drinking the blood and eating the flesh of his ‘flower girls’.

They were teenagers who were among thousands of his ‘disciples’ who followed him through the jungles as he preached his own form of religion – denying the teachings of the Bible – to the people of remote villages.
This week Black Jesus, 38, was found guilty under his real name, Steven Tari, of raping four of his flower girls, but, despite claims from their relatives that he had also sacrificed young women, he escaped being charged with murder.
Tari’s Christian-influenced cargo cult was first revealed to the world by me in the Daily Mail in 2007 when villagers and police told of the bodies of three ‘flower girls’ being buried in remote parts of the country.
One woman told police that she was present when Tari killed her young daughter by slitting her throat after which he drank her blood.
Interviewed in Madang’s Boen Prison a year later after his dramatic capture, Tari defended his practice in the black arts and of sleeping with young girls who joined his cult, admitting that ‘I got plenty – 430 girls’.
But he added: ‘What I did is under and in line with my religion. It was religious and was not wrong.’
He will be sentenced later this month and police said they expected him to receive a long term in jail.
Black Jesus had gathered more than six thousand disciples as he travelled through villages in jungle-clad mountains, promising people they would receive gifts from heaven if they followed him.
He dressed in long white robes, like Christ, and stood on boulders declaring that he was the modern Jesus and evil would stay away from those who left their homes to follow him through the jungles.
But when word spread that he had sacrificed three young women, drinking their blood and eating part of their flesh as part of his bizarre ceremonies, the devotion of his followers began to turn to fear.
Added to concerns were claims by the relatives of a mother who was said to have fallen under his spell and drank her own daughter’s blood.
My own inquiries in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea heard claims from thee family of 13-year-old Rita Hemen that she had been stripped naked, tied to a crude bed and raped by Tari before having her throat cut.
Her relatives said her blood had been drained into a coconut shell and drunk by Tari and his evil henchmen – and in a final horrific act they had eaten strips of her flesh.
Tari’s wickedness came to an end when he reached the village of Matepi, where he was overpowered while sleeping in a hut.
A church pastor, Paul Makura, said it had been difficult for police to catch Tari as he never stayed long in one place.
‘When he came here we heard that he had killed young women so we put a plan into action. We encouraged him to stay on and when he went to a hut to rest a group of eight villagers broke in, pounced on him and tied him up.’
Heavily armed police who made their way to Matepi found Tari tied to a tree. There was no sign of his bow-and-arrow-carrying bodyguards who, on a previous occasion, had engaged in a fight to the death with police.
Tari was still in possession of what he called his ‘magic rod’ – a knife – and a battered Bible, many of the teachings of which he had denied in his own sermons.
A spokesman for the Lutheran church, which is strongly represented in Papua New Guinea, said: ‘We hope that the passage of time will erase memories of what this evil man has done.’
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Noah's Ark clip art

Noah's Ark - Have they found it this time?

Ah, so they’ve found Noah’s Ark again. Is this Ark no.1 or Ark no.2 or…oh, I don’t know, I give up.

Controversy is raging around the world over the reported discovery of the Ark, 4,800 years after it is believed to have come to rest on a mountain in Turkey. There have been claims before that the Ark had been discovered on Mt Ararat after a huge boat-like structure of what was thought to have been petrified wood, was found by religious groups – but that ‘Ark’ has been largely dismissed as a natural geographical look-alike.
Now a team of fundamentalist Christians say they have ‘99.9 percent’ evidence they have found the Ark’s final resting place. Digging underground on the slopes of Mt Ararat, they say they have found chambers where the two-by-two animals that Noah is recorded in the Bible as taking on board before a great flood swept the land were kept.
It is said that if the group really have found the Ark, it would be the greatest coup in the history of archaelogy. Terrific. Inspiring. We all want to believe it.
But I, for one, dragged to my local Baptist church by relatives when I was younger and where I learned virtually every Old and New Testament story back to front, have my doubts that this is the Ark. Common sense in my older wisdom tells me that a ship that could hold two of each animal species from the Middle East – let alone the world – would have to be enormous.
All right, so Noah, warned by God that a huge flood was coming, set about building his Ark. Where on earth did he find all those long planks, the length of a football field, that would be required to make a huge boat? How did he make it totally waterproof? Boatbuilders say that keeping out leaks in a wooden boat that size would be a huge problem. Water seeping, or perhaps pouring, in would make the vessel unstable and just think of the size of the rudder that would be needed to keep a straight course – an army of men would be needed to manoeuvre it.
Mike Pitt, a British archaeologist, notes that if there had been a flood capable of lifting a huge ship some 4km up the side of a mountain 4,800 years ago, there would have to be substantial geological evidence for this flood around the world. And there isn’t.
The story of Noah and his Ark is in the Book of Genesis and relates how God commanded him to build the vast ship for himself, his family and ‘two of every sort of animal’. Then we learn how the flood waters rose until all life, except fish, is destroyed.
The question then arises, says Oxford University lecturer Nicholas Purcel, how the complex societies of Egypt and Mesopotamia, already centuries old, survived.
Perhaps the ‘new’ Ark, will give us some answers. Unless it turns out to be the remnants of an ancient mountain hut.
But as I said earlier, I want to believe…I really do.
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