God bless America! As if we don’t need any more proof that faith makes people bat-guano crazy, here’s a longish article from today’s Daily Mail about a school for exorcists run by Reverend Bob Larson in Phoenix, Arizona (where else?). Part of Larson’s crack team, which travels the world casting out demons, is a coterie of teenage girls:
‘We have found that our female, teenage exorcists are particularly effective at curing the possessed,’ says Rev Larson, whose daughter Brynne is a supernaturally talented exorcist.
Here’s Brynne. If there was ever a picture that says “religion poisons everything,” it’s this one:
Highly experienced in casting out demons, saving souls, and banishing evil spirits to hell, she is also a student who enjoys styling her hair, shopping and meeting her friends at Starbucks.
Those friends include trainee undergraduate exorcists, Melanie Massih, 16, her sister Christina, 15, also students at Rev Larson’s exorcist school.
They may love hanging out like normal teenagers, but they don’t watch TV like the rest of us.
‘I think Harry Potter and Twilight are instigators of evil,’ Savannah says. ‘They nullify morality and just serve to hook people in with evil.
‘I don’t watch any television at all. I’m much too busy praying and fighting the devil.’
Brynne’s fellow exorcists:
There are two parts to an exorcism,’ explains graduate Tess, who clutches an attractive, red leather-bound Bible.
‘Firstly, you must deal with inner healing, to get rid of traumatic experiences from your childhood and beyond, and secondly, deliverance from demons.’
To do this, the girls are taught ‘curse-breaking’: The more experienced exorcists Savannah and Brynne will teach Christina and Melanie how to read from a list of demons, designed to provoke the ‘demon within’, when chanted aloud to possessed folk.
Tess practices reading from the list of curses. ‘Death,’ she says, ominously, raising an eyebrow to the room. ‘Cancer.’ She pauses, dramatically. ‘Murder.’
It is normally after she says ‘murder’, that all hell breaks loose, she says. ‘Many belch on hearing the words, or start weeping,’ she whispers.
‘One woman collapsed and started convulsing, while another man started choking once. I remember I felt excited the first time. “This is it,” I thought to myself.’
I love the belching part! Here’s the man who corrupted his daughter, Reverend Larson:
But for Brynne, who like all of the Reverend’s young exorcists, is a home-schooled, teetotal teenager, her life, she insists is nothing but exciting.
‘We have travelled all over the world performing exorcisms. I have been to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and even the Bahamas, saving souls along the way.’
And Brynne is defiantly single, admitting: ‘I have never had a boyfriend, but I consider myself lucky – I don’t have many of the demons that can be associated with obsession, or desire.’
‘I want to one day get married and have children, for God says in the Bible that we should marry. But while there are people that need exorcisms, people who need help – that is all I’m interested in.’
Lest you think this insanity is the purview of small and fanatical Protestant sects, be advised that the article adds this:
The Vatican’s chief exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, has revealed that he alone has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession.
That seems a bit many to me, and “dealt with” may mean only handling paperwork. [UPDATE: Bob Felton has shown how unrealistic Amorth’s figure is.] Nevertheless, exorcism is a going concern of the Catholic church. To find out more about it, read this article from last year’s New York Times. Catholics, of course, are very secretive about this, for they realize that it makes them look almost as crazy as the people they shrive.