One of the snares that Israel, in the Old Testament, found repeatedly irresistible was the worship of Molech. And one of the reasons why God was so adamant that this particular form of idolatry be ruthlessly stamped out was that the cult included child sacrifice.

It seems that idols of Molech were giant metal statues of a man with a bull's head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and possibly outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was often lit in the hole, and babies were placed on the arms or in the hole. A glorified incinerator. And the couple sacrificing their first-born believed that Molech would ensure their financial security.

Fast forward 3000 years. No giant statue with a bull's head. A more contemporary metal structure with a flaming abdomen. But still lots of people willing to go to all kinds of lengths to secure their financial security. Including sacrificing their children - for what could be a greater drain on limited resources, and what could more dramatically interrupt the secure lifestyle than having a child to raise?

We may not have the old idols, but the ancient idolatries are alive and well in the 21st century. Young couples wanting a secure comfortable life is one of them. And now we have other idols beside financial security - like the frenzied pursuit of health and a prolonged life which is as good an approximation to immortality that our materialist mindset can grasp. The crippling costs required to maintain our crumbling healthcare systems give eloquent testimony to our willingness to pay any price for that goal. And then, as a relative newcomer, an old god is making a comeback, as seen in our willingness to make all kinds of sacrifices to the goddess of nature. Tithes and offerings freely given in the form of energy savings.

But now The Daily Telegraph has reported a disturbing fresh twist to an old horror story, exposed in a "Channel 4" Dispatches TV program in the UK that seems to epitomize all three of these idolatrous pursuits in one macabre re-invention of Molech. Apparently the bodies of 15,500 aborted and miscarried babies have been incinerated over the past couple of years as clinical waste in a bonfire of human foetal flesh that only the ancient Molech-worshipers could have imagined. Think of the scale of this religious act: saving the energy-challenged planet, saving the financially-strapped healthcare system, and saving the threatened lifestyle of modern yuppies all with a single sacrifice. Except the sacrifice is our babies.

The blogger 'Cranmer' describes the emerging story in his ironically-titled piece, "What's wrong with using aborted foetuses for central heating?". Read more...