When I was a young girl, I had an albino friend. Annie’s hair was as light and wispy as cotton candy. Her eyes as pink as Valentine Sweet-Tarts. At church, whenever we sang that song about Jesus washing me whiter than snow, I thought of her.

Annie’s skin was as white as a fresh piece of typing paper. There wasn’t a blemish on her anywhere. Annie reflected light like an angel that’s come straight from the presence of God. We went our separate ways after we ended up at different high schools. I haven’t thought of Annie in years until I caught a “Dateline” special about the slaughter of albinos taking place in Tanzania.

“Dateline’s” Aaron Lewis reported that Leticia Bahati, a 9-year-old albino girl watched as human poachers attacked her 14-year-old sister, Eunice. “Euni tried to run away,” Leticia said. “But she fell to the floor because they had hacked her in the neck.”

These human-hunters then cut off Eunice’s legs and left her to bleed to death, like so many others.

News reports say at least 53 people with albinism have met similar fates since 2007 in this east African nation.

The lack of prosecution for such heinous acts has created an atmosphere of great fear for Tanzania’s albino population – about 170,000 people. Authorities have arrested more than 90 people, including four police officers, for their part in such killings, but until recently, Tanzania’s leaders have turned a blind eye to the brutal slayings.

In September, Tanzania’s high court sentenced three men to hang for the slaying of a 13-year-old albino boy, killed for the same reason as Eunice – for his body parts.

The leg of an albino child can fetch a thousand dollars or better. A great temptation for the poverty-stricken, especially when you add to the mix that the reason body parts of the albinos are in such high demand is because witch doctors insist that it can bring good luck, specifically great riches. And that belief seems to be spreading. Twelve albinos in Brundi have been killed in the past year.

Not all those attacked die; many are just left maimed for life.

Peter Ash is an albino and founder of the Canadian-based human rights organization Under the Same Sun, which is seeking to put an end to this gruesome genocide. Following a recent trip to Tanzania, Ash said, “The body of a 2-day-old baby with albinism was exhumed from a grave dug the day after its birth. This tiny infant was found without arms or legs. There are repeated accounts of throats slit, blood drained – and sometimes drunk on the spot by the killers. Victims have no one to trust and nowhere to turn because evidence shows that in many cases, relatives or close friends of the victims are directly involved in the murders.”

That was the case for Eunice Bahait, whose parents were arrested days after her murder for allegedly aiding the human poachers for a cut of the profits.

Here in America, few of us have ever experienced the kind of poverty that causes a parent to cannibalize their own child. Yet we are not above practicing our own form of Voodoo Christianity.

One only has to look at the proliferation of preachers and evangelists touting a cash-and-Cadillac gospel and the thousands flocking to hear a message that distorts Jeremiah 29:11 and John 10:10 as God’s promise of “your rich life now.”

Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer both routinely assure their followers that God wants to prosper people. Their books sell in the multimillions.

The Inspiration Network, based in Charlotte, N.C., took over where Jim Bakker’s PTL left off. Its CEO, David Cerullo, is currently building a $4 million lakefront home in western South Carolina. It’s not like he needs a new home. Cerullo already owns a 12,000-square-foot home in North Carolina.

So just where’s he getting all that money?

A portion of it’s coming in $58 increments, known as seed-faith money.

“If you can’t trust God for $58, you’ll never be debt-free,” says Mike Murdock. Murdock is just one of the many pitchmen featured on the Inspiration Network.

Act now. In Jesus name!

“Tomorrow, somebody’s gonna drive a Mercedes.”

It could be you. If only you’ll have enough faith.

“My goal is for 300 people to hear the wisdom that God gives my heart for them to become millionaires for the sake of the kingdom of God.”

Georgia’s own Creflo Dollar is getting filthy rich, promising others that God is going to make them richer, if only they practice the Voodoo Christianity common to Word of Faith theology: Send in your money. Pray the big prayer. Expect God to do miracles. Chiefly, a car with a big chrome grill or a McMansion in a gated community.

The aptly named Dollar is only one of several prosperity gospel leaders who’ve been under Senate investigation for fraud. Others include Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Eddie Long and Paula White.

It appears that Voodoo Theology is on the rise not only in Africa but right here in America.

Cutting the limbs off albino children and weaving the hair of an albino victim into fishing nets in hopes for a bigger catch, a greater profit and increased wealth are hardly the same as a person on a fixed-income sending in $100 of seed-faith money in hopes that it will incur favor with the Almighty. However, the theology behind the two actions is ultimately the same.

It’s voodoo – a belief that we can manipulate God into making us richer if only we come up with the right incantation and sacrifice.

Somebody, please, warn the children.

Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of the forthcoming “Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? ‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV.”

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