Against Satanic Panics > Exorcism
Exorcism, "spiritual warfare," and anti-occultism
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2005 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
- Brief introduction
- Exorcism in general
- Roman Catholic exorcism
- Exorcism, the Vatican, and the recent Italian Satanic panic
- Eastern Orthodox exorcism
- Evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant exorcism, a.k.a. deliverance ministry
- Exorcism and the "ex-gay" movement and social conservativism in general
- Beyond exorcism - other, more aggressive kinds of "spiritual warfare"
- "Spiritual warfare" and dominionism
- Non-Christian exorcism traditions
- Exorcism-related deaths and physical injuries
- Brief introduction
Ever since the 1973 movie The Exorcist, exorcism has grown more and more popular in the West - not just because of the movie, but also because of the growing popularity of emotionally intense forms of Christianity such as Pentecostalism. At the same time, Christianity has been growing rapidly in parts of the world (e.g. Africa, parts of Asia) where exorcism always was popular to begin with. For both these reasons, exorcism has become more and more prominent within Christianity again, as it was back in Bible times.
And, in Christianity, a belief in demon possession naturally tends to go hand in hand with worries about the occult (all forms of occultism, no matter how benign) and about Satanism. Anti-occult statements can be found sprinked throughout many of the Christian articles on exorcism listed on this page.
Belief in demon possession also tends to go hand in hand with a general social conservativism. Various social changes of the past 50 years, e.g. women's rights and decreased prejudice against gays, are assumed to be Satanic in origin.
Note: Many of the articles linked on this page are written from a Christian and/or pro-exorcism point of view. A listing on this page does not imply endorsement of the author's views.
- Exorcism in general
- A Sociologist Possessed by Pop Culture Explores Links to Exorcism by Beth McMurtrie, in The Chronicle of Higher Education - about Michael W. Cuneo, author of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty (Doubleday, 2001; on Amazon; reviewed in The Nation; author interviewed in Christianity Today) and The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism (on Amazon)
- Are They Demons or Just Delusions? by John M. Powers, Insight magazine, Nov. 19, 2003
- Demons: Worldwide beliefs, Bible references on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site; compares conservative and liberal Christian beliefs
- Exorcism article in Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained
- exorcism in the Skeptic's Dictionary
- "A Skeptical View of Exorcism and Deliverance" by Danny Barnett, Newsletter of The North Texas Skeptics: Part 1 (May/June 1998). Part 2 (August 1998), Part 3 (September 1998), and Part 4 (October 1998).
- An Excess of Exorcisms? Gullibility, Fraud and Popular Culture Fuel a New Fascination with Demonic Possession - December 7, 2000, on the American Atheists site.
Most of the articles listed above are by skeptics. Most of the articles listed in the categories below are by believers.
Roman Catholic exorcism
The Catholic Church has much stricter standards than many Protestant deliverance ministries have regarding the circumstances under which it is thought that a "demon" is present. Also, it is Catholic policy to insist that a prospective exorcisee see a doctor and a psychiatrist first.
Because the Catholic Church tends to be secretive about exorcism, it is difficult for an outsider to determine what's real and what isn't. It seems to me that the Catholic Church wants to avoid criticism both from skeptics and from the more ardent Devil-believers both in its own ranks and in rival forms of Christianity.
- Exorcism and Exorcist in the Catholic Encyclopedia (Note: The online Catholic Encyclopedia is an old pre-Vatican-II version)
- Demonic Possession & Oppression; Exorcism: Roman Catholic Beliefs & Practices on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site
- Text file containing second half of The Roman Ritual 1964 edition, including the complete text of the Catholic exorcism ritual (old version), which begins about 2/3 of the way down the page. (Both this file and the first half of the The Roman Ritual also contain lots of mini-exorcisms as parts of all sorts of other rituals, e.g. baptism.)
- Excerpt from Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin, 1976 (Note: Malachi Martin was a traditionalist Catholic who has also claimed that there is a conspiracy of "Satanists" hiding within the Catholic clergy and even within the Vatican. See the section on Traditionalist Catholics vs. the alleged "Satanists" in the Vatican on my page about The lunatic fringe.)
- On The Current Norms Governing Exorcisms - Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 29, 1984.
- Paris Journal: Exorcist of Notre Dame Doesn't Lack for Clients by Marlise Simons, Monday, June 15, 1998
- Vatican issues first new exorcism ritual since 1614 - January 26, 1999, CNN
- Vatican releases new rite for exorcism - Jan. 26, 1999, Catholic World News
- Prefect for Divine Worship on the New Rite of Exorcism - 26 JAN 1999 (ZENIT), on Eternal Word Television Network (ends with paragraph denouncing "the spread of Satanic sects and occult circles")
- New rite of exorcism presented - excerpts from a presentation by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on 26 January 1999
- Catholic Culture: Documetn Library: Exorcism Rite Reformed
- Increase in Cases of Demonic Possession, statements by Exorcist Fr. Raul Salvucci, 4 Aug 1999 (Zenit)
- Demonic Possession and Exorcism by By Fr. William Saunders, November 2, 2000
- Vatican lays down exorcism law, Friday, 24 November, 2000, BBC News
- "The exorcist and the church" by Lou Marano ("United Press International", June 6, 2001, on the website of CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions), about African former archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.
- Rome's chief excorcist [sic] warns parents against Harry Potter - Catholic News, 4-Jan-02; originally on LifeSite.
- Top Exorcist Calls New Rite Useless by Melinda Henneberger, January 2, 2002, Diocese Report - about Father Gabriele Amorth; includes softened warning against Harry Potter books.
- 60 Minutes II The Exorcists - CBS News, January 30, 2002 - mentions growing worldwide popularity of exorcism, including activities of the African former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo
- The Vatican's top exorcist sends the devil packing by Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel, USA, Apr. 30, 2004 - about Father Gabriele Amorth.
- GodSpy (a Catholic website): What Happened to Emily? by John Zmirak, September 9, 2005, about the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Interview with an Exorcist: Fr. James Lebar talks about ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’, October 3, 2005.
- Exorcisms up on church approval by Patrick Harrington, Miami Herald Mexico Edition, El Universal, January 02, 2006 - interview with Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja, the Roman Catholic Church´s highest-ranking exorcist in Mexico City, who blames demon possession/oppression on (among other things) the activities of traditional Mexican healers
- Catholic Pages Directory: Controversies: Devil & Demons (site also contains articles denouncing "New Age & Cults," including Wicca, plus other collections of links denouncing feminism and modernity in general)
- St. Padre Pio Center for Deliverance Counseling: Resources (note the puritannical worries about various aspects of modern pop culture, including even Pokemon, as well as lots and lots of warnings against the "New Age movement")
Below are some skeptical articles on Catholic exorcism claims:
- Exorcism! Driving Out the Nonsense by Joe Nickell, Skeptical Inquirer, January/February 2001
- Press Release by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) about The Exorcist, Wed, 27 Sep 2000
- The Haunted Boy: The Cold Hard Facts Behind the Story that Inspired "The Exorcist" by Mark Obsasnick (another copy here)
- Real or Reel?: The Exorcist (Thu Nov 6, 2003) and The Real Story Behind The Exorcist (Thu Aug 19, 2004; another copy on the Skeptical Inquirer site) by Benjamin Radford
- Catholic Church Still Champions Medieval Mentality by HarryUSA
- Demonic Possessions by Perry DeAngelis - includes discussion of exorcisms performed by one "Bishop" Robert McKenna, an excommunicated ultra-traditionalist Catholic
- The Flick Filosopher: The Exorcist, Lost Souls, and Possessed by Maryann Johanson
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose: Call it Karl Rove Cinema by Russell Brown, Sep 19, 2005 - not about exorcism itself but about the movie's apparent right-wing and anti-feminist agenda
- Ask an exorcist! by PZ Myers, Pharyngula blog, Thursday, December 29, 2005 - critique of this interview with Catholic exorcist Pedro Barrajon (who is a member of the Legion of Christ, about which see more info further down on this page).
Note: I would very much appreciate being informed of any other skeptical articles - especially well-researched ones - regarding Catholic exorcism claims. I would also appreciate being informed about any well-researched articles examining Catholic exorcism from the viewpoint of any non-Abrahamic religion.
Exorcism, the Vatican, and the recent Italian Satanic panic
In Italy recently, there seems to have been quite a bit of panic about Satanism in the wake of an infamous murder case involving members of the "Beasts of Satan" metal band. For information about the "Beasts of Satan" murders, see my collection of links to news articles about The "Beasts of Satan" in Italy.
Apparently spurred by the Satanic panic in Italy, a Vatican university has begun giving a course on "Satanism and exorcism." Below is a collection of news articles and interviews that deal with Catholic exorcism in relation to worries about Satanism, mainly in Italy.
I haven't yet found very many skeptical writings about Italy's current Satanism scare. Most of the articles below repeat, uncritically, various hard-to-believe claims about Satanism, such as the alleged existence of hundreds of "Satanic cults" in Italy.
- Interview, February 14, 1998 with African former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, on Milingo's website - includes some claims about Satanism in Italy. (See also the section on Traditionalist Catholics vs. the alleged "Satanists" in the Vatican on my page about The lunatic fringe.)
- Two Eminent Churchmen Declare "Satanism Is Practiced in Vatican!" on the Fatima Network site. (Quotes Malachi Martin and Emmanuel Milingo. I would imagine that such claims, by two "eminent churchmen" with large popular followings, would have put some pressure on the Vatican to take a tough public stand against Satanism. For more about the Fatima Network, see the links in this paragraph on my page about The lunatic fringe.)
- Satanism on the Rise, say Italian Bishops (Zenit, May 18, 2001)
- Doctors, Priests Form Exorcism Commission (Reuters, February 13, 2004)
- The Smoke of Satan in the House of the Lord - March 2004 interview with Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist in the Diocese of Rome, on the traditionalist Catholic site Christian Order
- Satanism and the "incompetent Roman Curia" by Atila Sinke Guimarães, July 6, 2004, on the traditionalist Catholic site Tradition In Action; includes an interview with Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist in Rome.
- Alarm in Italy as growth of Satanism creates “market” for consecrated hosts, Catholic News Agency, Rome, July 15, 2004
- Vatican offers course in Satanism and exorcism by Elizabeth Day, 9 January 2005, Telegraph (U.K. newspaper)
- Vatican university debuts classes on Satanism - Associated Press, Feb. 17, 2005, on MSNBC (actually the course seems to be more about exorcism than about Satanism, but it is said to be a response to an Italian panic about Satanism in the wake of the "Beasts of Satan" murders; another copy of this same article, with the title Vatican U. Offers Exorcism 101, can be found on the CBS News site.)
- Rome priests get exorcism lessons by By Mark Duff, Thursday, 17 February, 2005, BBC News
- Know thine enemy by Simon Jeffery, Guardian (U.K.), Thursday, February 17, 2005 - about the Vatican course on exorcism; article mentions Carlo Climati, said to be a "specialist on youth culture and Satanism."
- Italian University helping priests fight Satanism - Catholic News Agency, Rome, Feb. 18, 2005. Article mentions Carlo Climati as "an author who will teach about the Satan’s lure of young people," and mentions that the course is run by the Legionaries of Christ, with the help of something called the Socio-Religious Research and Information Group, whose National Secretary, Giuseppe Ferrari, is quoted in the article. Also quoted are Father Alfonso Kabore of Burkina Faso and Father Anton Lasser of Austria.
- Mexicans confront Satanism with National Meeting of Exorcists - Catholic News Agency, Mexico City, Sep. 02, 2004. Article begins as follows: "The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, inaugurated this week the first National Meeting of Exorcists as a means of combating the spread of Satanism. ... The Cardinal emphasized that 'this is a crucial moment for the Church' and that the Church 'must denounce with the Word everything that is against God,' particularly witchcraft, occultism, magic, fortune telling, tarot cards and masonry, among other things."
- Pssst! Where the devil is the exorcist meeting? - Reuters, Sept. 14, 2005, on MSNBC. About Italian exorcists' convention and a second run of the Vatican's course on "exorcism and Satanism"; article also mentions the Italian "Beasts of Satan" murder case and alleges, without a source other than "some estimates," that "as many as 5,000 people are thought to be members of Satanic cults in Italy with 17-to 25-year-olds making up three quarters of them."
- Interest in exorcism may be growing; rite gives church power to cast out demons by Joseph Zyble (with excerpts from Catholic News Service and Zenit News Agency reports), The U.P. Catholic (Newspaper of the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan), October 7, 2005 - mentions Vatican's exorcism course and mentions Carlo Climati, Father Francesco Bamonte, and Father Paolo Scarafoni.
- First day of school for aspiring Vatican exorcists by Philip Pullella, Reuters, via Yahoo News, October 13, 2005, on Third World Traveler
- Exorcism 101 Course - Deliriumsrealm.com Blog, Friday, October 21, 2005
- Vatican resumes medieval rituals of exorcism - Pravda (Russian newspaper), 9/22/2005 - uncritically endorses Vatican (a bit startling in a newspaper that used to be run by atheistic Communists) and denounces religious tolerance toward any form of Satanism (e.g. the acceptance of Church of Satan member Chris Cranmer's right to practice his religion in the British Navy).
- The Devil in Pictures by Barbie Nadeau, Newsweek International Edition, Oct. 24, 2005 issue (about the true story behind the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose; article reports views of exorcism skeptics but also alleges, without a source given, "there are 5,000 Italians involved in 650 active satanic cults in operation in the country, more than double the number a decade ago.")
- The Exorcism of Europe by George Neumayr, American Spectator, 10/18/2005 - article by an exorcism-believer denouncing the above Newsweek article but echoing its claim about an alleged large number of "demonic cults."
- Canadian Priest Staying Mum About Exorcism Class, on the blog The Devil Appears by S.M. Elliot, Monday, January 30, 2006
Below is some information about the Legion of Christ, which runs the Pontifical Academy "Regina Apostolorum," at which the Vatican's course on "Satanism and exorcism" is being taught:
- Rick Ross's collection of news clippings about the Legionaries of Christ, including With elite backing, Catholic order has pull in Mexico, by Jose deCordoba, Wall Street Journal via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 23, 2006, and Rise of the Catholic Right: The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ displays its clout by Joseph Contreras, Newsweek International, June 16, 2003 - about the Legion's influence in Mexican politics. Ross's site contains articles about various controversies such a long history of sex abuse allegations against the Legion's founder.
- The Legion's own website, including Hell is a state by Paul Badde (December 2, 2005) and Italy´s Newest Catholic University (January 10, 2006)
- ReGAIN (Religious Groups Awareness International Network) - Catholics critical of the Legion of Christ
- Life-after-RC - blog by a Catholic critical of the Legion of Christ's Regnum Christi movement
- Legionaries of Christ found new Roman university (October 1, 2004) and New European University devoted to Christian culture (January 10, 2006) on Catholic World News. Note that the Legion appears to be on the warpath against Europe's secular culture.
- Pope Praises Controversial Founder of Legionaires of Christ by Peggy Polk, 12-02-04, on EthicsDaily.com (Baptist)
- The Church, the Council and the Unconscious: How Hidden Forces Shaped the Catholic Church, Part 2, by James Arraj
- LegionaryFacts.org - Legion's responses to various allegations against it
The only web articles I've found so far that are skeptical of Italy's current Satanism scare, and which also deal with exorcism, are the following:
- Bad Exorcist by Warren Ellis, Southend, England, November 24 2000 - includes critique of some claims by the African former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo about Satanism in general, but not his claims about Italian Satanism in particular.
- The Devil's Workshop? Vatican Cranks Exorcism Mill Amidst Sensationalist Headlines, Religious Rivalry - February 21, 2005, American Atheists - includes critique of some common claims about the "Beasts of Satan" murders, as well as general skeptical commentary about exorcism
Here is some other skeptical commentary about Italy's recent Satanic panic:
- Bartholomew's notes on religion: Researching religion in the news: Italy an Unhealthy Climate for Satanists, 07 January 2005, and More on Italian Satanism, 10 January 2005, by Richard Bartholomew
For my own comments on Italy's "Satanism" scare, please see my page about Italy's recent Satanic panic (Attention: scholars of new religions).
Eastern Orthodox exorcism
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: Exorcism in the Orthodox Church by Rev. George C. Papademetriou, Ph.D., and Exorcism by Rev. George Mastrantonis
- St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas: Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers: Exorcism
Evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant exorcism, a.k.a. deliverance ministry
Protestant evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Pentecostals hold a wide variety of beliefs about exorcism and how and under what circumstances it should be performed. The collection of links below provides only a sampling.
- Possessed or Obsessed? in Christianity Today, September 3, 2001
- Demonology, Demon Possession, Exorcism on Apologetics Index
- A ministry of deliverance - interview with John Schmidt and Gerald Janzen, instructors at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C. (in Canada), who have been involved in a deliverance ministry at the College
- Excerpt from "Demon Possession and the Christian" by C. Fred Dickason (a leading figure in the deliverance ministry movement)
- Roman Catholic Exorcism vs a Christian Exorcism by Chris Ward - Protestant evangelical/charismatic critique of Catholic exorcism
- CBC News Disclosure: Deliverance, broadcast January 15, 2002
- Demon Possession Handbook by J. F. Cogan - contains some statements that even most evangelical Christian exorcists would probably reject vehemently, e.g. "There is little doubt that all serial killers and serial arsonists are demon possessed." Most Christian theologians would say that people, due to "original sin," are quite capable of committing terrible crimes on their own, even without the influence of demons. Jeff Cogan himself claims two academic degrees, but doesn't say from which colleges or seminaries, and comes across as generally uneducated.
- Demonic Possession, Oppression & Exorcism: Conservative Protestant Beliefs & Practices on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site. Relies heavily on disreputable sources such as J.F. Cogan; it would have been better to emphasize more mainstream and better-educated evangalical Christian sources such as Christianity Today magazine.
- How to Obtain Personal Deliverance, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, in Nigeria
- The Doctrine on Demon Possession - Shepherds Message Philippines
Not all fundamentalists and evangelicals support the idea of "deliverance ministry." Below are some writings by the small minority of evangelicals and fundamentalists who reject the concept outright:
- Christian Research Institute: Deliverance Ministry in Historical Perspective by Elliot Miller, and Spiritual Warfare - God's Way
- Exorcisms Growing In Popularity Among Catholics, Charismatics And Evangelicals - Foundation Magazine Jan-Feb 2001, Fundamental Evangelistic Association
Exorcism and the "ex-gay" movement and social conservativism in general
Apparently quite a few evangelicals regard homosexuality as either a cause or a symptom of either outright demonic possession or at least demonic influence. And, apparently, quite a few deliverance ministries attempt - with notoriously little success - to "cure" people of homosexuality via exorcism.
- Science vs. Politics and Religion: The "Ex-Gay" Sham by Mel Seesholtz, November 30 2005, on Counterbias.com
- Media Matters - Lou Sheldon suggested exorcism is necessary to "release" a person from homosexual lifestyle
- Ex-Gay Watch: Mel White on Falwell, Bush, and Ex-Gays and Wayne Besen questions exgay Stephen Bennett's ties to demon-deliverance group
- Outlet Radio Network - Ex-Gay Stephen Bennett Tied To Backwoods Deliverance Cult by Wayne Besen, October 26, 2004
Belief in demon possession also tends to go hand in hand not only with anti-gay attitudes but also with a general social conservativism. For example, according to an article about Michael W. Cuneo's book American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty, "Many [exorcists] are deeply conservative, seeing demonic possession as a result of the flaws of a liberal society in which drugs, sex, and feminism have opened people to evil spirits."
Beyond exorcism - other, more aggressive kinds of "spiritual warfare"
These days, it would seem that most evangelical Christians and especially most Pentecostals and charismatics do believe in demon possession and exorcism. There are also other, newer, more aggressive forms of "spiritual warfare," such as "strategic-level spiritual warfare," that are more controversial among evangelical Christians.
- New Dimensions in the Study of Angels and Demons by Robert V. Rakestraw, Ph.D., Professor of Theology, Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota - includes an overview of evangelical Christian "spiritual warfare" literature.
- The Awesome Argentina Revival: Lessons in Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare from Argentina by Peter Wagner edited by Chris Simpson and David Little. Evangelical Christian article advocating the ideas of "territorial spirits" and "strategic level spiritual warfare.".
- Evangelical Christian critiques of Peter Wagner's views: Spiritual Warfare Evangelism: How Did We Get Here? by Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Volume 6, No. 5 - November/December 2001 (note: "AOG" = "Assemblies of God," the leading Pentecostal denomination) and The Gospel and Spiritual Warfare: A Review of Peter Wagner's Confronting the Powers by John F. Hart, Professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL, in Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring 1997 -- Volume 10:18
- Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization - Deliver us from Evil Consultation, Nairobi, Kenya - 2000 - see especially related documents, including North American Case Study: An Overview of Spiritual Warfare Literature by A. Scott Moreau
- Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization: A Brazilian Perspective: Case Studies from Brazil by Neuza Itioka - evangelical Christian account of the use of "spiritual warfare" as an aspect of evangelism in Brazil. (In the first-described case, a bunch of young people interrupt, through quiet prayer, one woman's invocation of Iemanja on a public beach. I'm surprised that the woman, supposedly an experienced priestess of Iemanja, accepted the young people's interpretation of her experience as "Jesus overpowering Iemanja" rather than as just a bunch of people subtly interfering with the woman's own ability to concentrate on her ritual.)
- The Freedom in Christ Homepage by Neil Anderson
- Fundamentalist/evangelical Christian critiques of Neil Anderson's ideas on "spiritual warfare": Neil Anderson and Freedom in Christ Ministries: A general critique, Christian Research Institute; and Review of Setting Your Church Free, by Neil Anderson and Charles (Chuck) Mylander reviewed by Miles J. Stanford, May 1994
- Brief general fundamentalist critiques of various "spiritual warfare" ideas: Strange Spiritual Warfare by David W. Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, June 30, 2000, and Spiritual Warfare—False Clichés by Rick Miesel, Biblical Discernment Ministries
- The Curse of Curse Theology by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman - evangelical Christian critique of Unbroken Curses by Rebecca Brown, who was also a major "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scaremonger in the 1980's - see Drugs, Demons, and Delusions: The "Amazing" Saga of Rebecca Brown M.D. and Elaine by G. Richard Fisher, Paul R. Blizard, and M. Kurt Goedelman.
- Jesus Work Ministry - Christian Resource and Deliverance Ministry - evangelical website advocating exorcism ("casting demons out of people") while opposing various other ideas about "spiritual warfare" (see especially Confusion on Spiritual Warfare by Link Hudson)
- Spiritual Warfare - collection of articles by K. Neill Foster, a non-charismatic evangelical Christian who advocates exorcism and cautiously endorses some of the more aggressive forms of spiritual warfare, while critiquing others
From a non-Christian point of view, the salient points are these: (1) Nearly all fundamentalist/evangelical Christians, on all sides of the "spiritual warfare" debate, believe that all non-Christian worldviews and spiritual practices - no matter how benign - are of the Devil. (2) Because the methods of the more aggressive spiritual warriors are derived from sources other than just the Bible alone, they themselves are regarded by their critics as venturing into forbidden spiritual territory. (3) The more aggressive kinds of "spiritual warfare" are apparently used in some of the fastest-growing churches.
"Spiritual warfare" and dominionism
"Dominionism" is the belief that ultra-conservative Christians should take over the government and turn it into a theocracy. First, some articles about dominionism itself:
- Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence by by Frederick Clarkson, The Public Eye Magazine, Vol. VIII, Nos. 1 & 2, March/June 1994
- The Rise of Dominionism: Remaking America as a Christian Nation by Frederick Clarkson, The Public Eye Magazine - Vol. 19, No. 3, Winter 2005
- The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy by Chip Berlet, Mon Nov 28, 2005
- A Nation Under God by John Sugg and Excerpts from The New Messiahs by Ketherine Yurica
- TheocracyWatch.org: Many articles of interest, including (1) Biblical Law, (2) Capital crimes in a theocracy and (3) Satan
- Cult of Character by Silja J.A. Talvi, In These Times, January 9, 2006
- Biblical Discernment Ministries: Dominion Theology/Reconstructionism/COR and America's Christian Roots? / Activism & War, by Rick Miesel, a fundamentalist Christian who opposes dominionism and who rejects the political activism of the Christian religious right wing in general. Unfortunately, it would seem that his views are shared by only an ever-shrinking minority of fundamentalist/evangelical Christians.
Both dominionism and the more aggressive forms of spiritual warfare have roots in the Latter Rain movement, an extreme form of Pentecostalism. Below is some information about the Latter Rain movement:
- The Latter Rain on The Latter Rain Page (NOT an official site of any Latter Rain organization), whose Kingdom and Eschatology sections of this site present what seems to be a left-wing version of dominionism (whereas most of the more visibible dominionists, e.g. Pat Rbertson, tend to be right-wing). Unfortunately, I was not able to find a general historical overview or who's who of the Latter Rain movement on this or any other site sympathetic to Latter Rain; I was able to find such info only on sites hostile to Latter Rain.
- Biblical Discernment Ministries: The History of the Charismatic Movement (including Latter Rain) by Gary E. Gilley
- SpiritWatch Ministries (a Pentecostal site, but critical of Latter Rain): Strange Fires: The New Order Of The Latter Rain by L. Thomas Holdcroft, 1980
- "Let Us Reason" Ministries: Kingdom Triumphalism (Dominionism) in a collection of articles by an evangelical Christian critiquing the Latter Rain movement within Pentecostalism; includes some history. See also Lying Wonders by Joseph Chambers on the "Rapture Ready" site
- Darkness to Light Homepage (a Calvinist site, critical of Pentecostalism): The Latter Rain Movement: Its Continuing Influence by R. K. McGregor Wright
Not all dominionists also practice exorcism or "spiritual warfare," and not all exorcism advocates are also dominionists. Indeed, one of the best-known forms of dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism, was founded by otherwise rather staid Calvinists. However, dominionism has become more popular among Pentecostals and charismatics than among Calvinists or among other types of fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. Thus, "spiritual warfare" and dominionism often do go hand in hand. In any case, political dominionism and the more aggressive forms of "spiritual warfare" share a common conquer-the-world-for-Christ attitude, albeit on different planes.
- Pat1 (Thu Nov 24, 2005) and Part 2 (Sat Nov 26, 2005) of "Dominionism and coercive tactics" by dogemperor
- Dark Christianity: Exploring and Exposing Dominionist Christianity, including: (1) Deliverance ministry, "Christian Counseling", and parallels with Scientology (!), (2) Dominionism: Not just for White Americans, (3) Dominionism and coercion: Dealing with the cultic mindset, (4) The Cult of Character (see also the replies), and (5) New Community on LiveJournal
- C. Peter Wagner - Quotes & Notes compiled by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer
Non-Christian exorcism traditions
Exorcism isn't just a Christian thing. Many older religions practiced it too, and still practice it.
- Among Jews:
- Dybbuk: A glimpse of the supernatural in Jewish tradition by Gershon Winkler
- The Dybbuk - Jewish Heritage Online Magazine
- Dybbuk - Spiritual Possession and Jewish Folklore by Jeff Belanger, November 29, 2003
- Dybbuk by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D. - Encyclopedia Mythica
- Witch doctors set-up shops, Deccan Herald, Thursday, February 03, 2005
- India's ghost fair draws thousands by KS Shaini, BBC News, Thursday, 24 February, 2005
Stories on other non-Christian exorcism traditions will be added later.
Exorcism-related deaths and physical injuries
No page on exorcism would be complete without a mention of the many deaths and physical injuries that have occurred during exorcism. It would be unfair to suggest that physical violence is an intrinsic, unavoidable aspect of all exorcism rituals. However, some kinds of exorcism rituals do involve physical violence and/or restraining people against their will for long periods. Some other exorcists may just be so focussed on interpreting the exorcisee's behavior as "demonic" that they may overlook otherwise obvious warning signs of bodily malfunctions.
- New Exorcism Film Highlights Deadly Rituals by Benjamin Radford, Skeptica Inquirer, September/October 2005 (another copy here), and Radford's review of The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
- Christianity Today's review of The Exorcism of Emily Rose
- Apparent Romanian Orthodox exorcism / crucifixion / ritual murder and Demonic Possession, Oppression & Exorcism: A West African / Fundamentalist Christian syncretistic religion in the UK on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site
- Exorcism Trial, AP 06/28 0707
- Call for action on child exorcism, BBC News, Friday, 25 February, 2005
- Rick A. Ross: Exorcism and "spiritual warfare" - collection of news clippings, about exorcism in general but with an emphasis on deaths and injuries
- News tracker: Exorcism on Religion News Blog
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