Christian Homeschool Girl. Teenage Exorcist.

So, I was initially sure this was satire. I grew up believing in demons and believing that people could be possessed by demons and that Christians could cast out demons, but I certainly didn’t travel the world performing exorcisms. Guess what? It’s not satire.

A trio of Christian homeschoolers from Scottsdale, Arizona, have taken up an unusual extracurricular activity on top of their academic studies—they perform exorcisms! Brynne Larson, 17, Tess Scherkenback, 17, and SavannahScherkenback, 20, are all black belts in karate, fans of musical theater, and members of the Mars Hill Speech and Debate Club. These pretty, eloquent, and well-rounded young women enjoy hanging out with friends, riding horses, going to the mall, and styling their hair – that is, when they’re not busy chasing demons. “We’re just normal girls who do something extraordinary for God,” Brynne told an ABC reporter. “There is a war going on every day, being waged against us. Satan hates us. We know how the enemy is, we know what he’s attacking and we can fight back.”

“When a demon comes into someone,” explained Tess, “its desire is to steal, kill and destroy that person’s identity, that person’s life.” The Bible clearly affirms the reality of demon possession, and exorcism has been a legitimate practice throughout the history of the church. The Roman Catholic Church developed specific teachings for priests assigned to perform exorcisms. In Protestant practice the exorcist is often a member of the church, or an individual thought to be graced with special talents or skills. Although many people think the teens are too “unprepared” and “unqualified” to be performing exorcisms, there’s no real reason not to believe that these girls couldn’t be genuinely good at it. The three young women were mentored by Brynne’s father, Rev. Bob Larson of the Spiritual Freedom Church.

I think even my parents would have called what these girls do a show. As an evangelical, I believed that I could cast out demons in the name of Jesus, but I was under the impression that all one had to do was say “In the name of Jesus, I cast you out!” and it would have to go. That was the power of Jesus name, right? What these girls do looks more . . . complicated than that. It’s also, apparently, more financially costly. Color me surprised.

Anyway, here’s a full length documentary on the trio, “Teenage Exorcists.”

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://yeswesam.wordpress.com/ Sam

    Did you ever read a book series called “Forbidden Doors” by Bill Myers? It was marketed as a Christian alternative to the Goosebumps books, but essentially every book reached a dramatic climax involving teenagers performing “exorcisms” on their friends. These exorcisms rarely involved anything more than yelling “In the name of Jesus Christ” over and over again.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      No, but I read everything by Frank Peretti.

      • Don Gwinn

        I was never an evangelical, but I have an aunt and uncle who were in deep. My aunt gave me three Peretti books for Christmas one year when I was a kid, because I was known as the reader in the family. I loved books, but I couldn’t figure out how these worked. I didn’t know the term “deus ex machine” at the time, but there didn’t seem to be any story there. The kids went with their archaeologist/adventurer father to the mysterious jungle site, explored the mysterious pit, there was scary stuff happening . . . so far, so good, I guess. But they didn’t do anything about it! They just formed a circle and prayed really hard. The scary stuff happened harder for awhile and then stopped.

        Even at that age, I was left thinking, “What happened? Where’s the story? Does this guy not know how stories work?” When I started to read the second one and it was going the same way, I realized my aunt had slipped me some Jesus on the sly. At the time, I thought Peretti was some kind of obscure religious nut that only my aunt had ever heard of, but I keep seeing references to him. Over time, it has occurred to me that this guy is famous in the right circles and probably outsells some of my favorite authors.

      • Mary C

        “I realized my aunt had slipped me some Jesus on the sly”

        bwahahaha!!! Some Jesus on the sly…too funny.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        By your description, it sounds like a really bad fanfic.

      • Nancy Shrew

        Isn’t that essentially what The Bible is?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Good point.

      • The_L1985

        Ugh. For all its disturbing theological implications (it states that members of all other religions are worshiping Satan at one point), Shadowmancer at least followed good storytelling practice and made you CARE about the characters.

        - We see how a pastor turns to evil.
        - We learn about the main characters and sympathize with their problems.
        - Really good Jesus-vision scene. (I’m a sucker for supernatural visions in fiction.)

        - The manhunt creates genuine suspense.
        - Thomas stands up to evil vicar.
        - Another awesome Jesus-vision scene.
        - Vicar is defeated through the agency of the main characters. While it’s indicated that God is working through them, the main characters actually DO something instead of sitting around asking God to fix everything for them.

      • aim2misbehave

        Oh, I think I still have Shadowmancer around somewhere. It was a little darker than my parents usually would’ve allowed, but I really, really liked the kinda Rastafarian Jesus-analogue (I was just old enough to get some of the tenuous associations that brought up, LOL) and that they didn’t make him white. It definitely was the only explicitly Christian YA novel that I felt actually was written by someone who was a competent writer, instead of someone who was just taking a generic popular-at-the-time YA literature trope and slapping some Jesus on top of it.

      • Mogg

        Urgh. I can’t believe I used to think This Present Darkness was an awesome book.

      • http://yeswesam.wordpress.com/ Sam

        Yes… I read The Oath when I was only 11 years old. Graphic details of being being gored to death by a “sin dragon” that runs away from you only if you’re “saved”…

      • Fanraeth

        I grew up on Frank Peretti, but that book and then Monster cured me of liking him. Even as a young teenager, I picked up on how utterly outrageous the notion was that all of those people deserved to die for their sins. And Monster was beyond absurd. I think calling the villain in that book a straw man would be an insult to straw men.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Was that a Peretti novel, or the Dragonraid RPG?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        At a Christian Fandom get-together at Anaheim WorldCon in the Nineties, the panelists said that Peretti was the type of author who needs a good editor, and his first few books (which established the Spiritual Warfare genre) didn’t have one.

        I remember his first book built up his main supernatural Big Bad (the Demon Prince of Babylon), only to defeat him trivially at the end. Instead of a Boss Fight climax, we get an “I Rebuke Thee in the Name of Jesus Christ!” and he just goes POOF. YOU DO NOT BUILD UP YOUR MAJOR VILLAIN ONLY TO TAKE HIM DOWN TRIVIALLY. A HERO IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE VILLAIN HE DEFEATS IN THE ENDING SHOWDOWN.

        His second book(?) had a scene where the Secular Humanist Conspiracy meets in a smokeless room to plot their destruction of Christianity in the town, DEMONS riding all the Possessed participants like Loa, controlling their every move and every thought. And as I read the descriptions, I went “THAT’s Madelyn Murry O’Hair, THAT’s the Amazing Randi, THAT’s Carl Sagan, THAT’s Dr Ruth, THAT’s Steven Jay Gould…” Like he couldn’t be more obvious.

        Yet by adapting Technothriller tropes to the Supernatural, Peretti DID create a new sub-genre similar to the pulp “Occult Detective”, but with potential storytelling depth. I once heard about a type of Chinese theater which had two stages, one atop the other. On the top stage were the Immortals (i.e. supernatural beings and forces); on the bottom were the Mortals. What happened on one stage influenced the other, but the Mortals were not aware of what was happening literally around them. And Peretti’s sub-genre reminded me of that interesting concept.

    • InvertIntrovert

      Ooh! I remember those. IIRC, they had a lot of the same themes as Frank Peretti–spiritual warfare, paranoia about new age stuff as a gateway to demonic possession, vast anti-Christian conspiracies.

    • R.L. Santos

      Yes, unfortunately, and I own some of them. Ugh, I remember how as a teenager they chilled me to the core. Now, seems a bit silly and nonsensical like “Meditation leaves you open to demon possession!” and “Alien sightings are really demons!”. Just about everything was caused by demons in that series…

      • http://yeswesam.wordpress.com/ Sam

        Yep… demons were present in everything from Ouija boards to haunted houses to a Dungeons & Dragons style computer game to a Marilyn Manson style rock band. I would say the most disturbing part of the series was the Author’s Note at the end of every book, which essentially said “This sh** is real, yo”

      • aim2misbehave

        Ouija boards are the one exception as far as I’m concerned. Almost everyone I know, from Christians to Wiccans to hardcore atheists, absolutely refuses to have anything to do with a ouija board. I figure that hey, if people from all over the religious spectrum agree that something is dangerous/demonic/etc and Should Never Be Touched, then… well, if there is anything in the world that’s dangerous and demonic and needs to not be messed with, then that’s probably one of those things, and if there isn’t, then all I’m missing out on is one “board game” that’s entirely directed by my subconscious anyways.

      • The_L1985

        Even if you believe in evil spirits, the possibilities are either:
        1. Ouija is a potential source of demonic infestation, and too dangerous to mess with; or

        2. Ouija is a game where you move around a plastic thingy to spell words and pretend it’s moving itself.

        Either way, why would you want to even bother when there are actually-fun board games out there to spend your money on?

      • KnBa

        Speaking as one more on the hardcore atheist side (though not all that hard core): The ouija boards seem like a stupid waste of time. It’s not that they Should Never Be Touched, it’s that they Hold No Appeal.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Did you ever read a book series called “Forbidden Doors” by Bill Myers? It was marketed as a Christian alternative to the Goosebumps books…

      -
      Tip: If something can be described as “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”, that is NOT a good sign.

  • Pilar

    I’m reminded of the scene from Saved! where Mandy Moore tries to exorcise Jena Malone. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umLUKBlpyoY).

    Longtime reader / fan, first time commenting, and sadly it’s a lame youtube link, but it’s a lame youtube link from a movie I adore that is at least mildly relevant. Thanks for sharing with us, LibbyAnne. I love having my mind stretched (and my outrage invoked) by your blog!

  • eamonknight

    Bob Larson has been railing against the evils of rock & roll, finding demons hiding under every rock, and generally doing the scare-em-and-then-ask-for-money evangelist schtick for decades. See: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bob_Larson

    • Nicholas Hylton

      “Give me money or you will go to hell!”
      No advertizing company has come up with a marketing slogan anywhere near as good.

  • LizBert

    Watching this is painful. The people who have been sexually abused experienced real violence and need healing, not a show.

  • Iris

    o,o
    Am I the only one who keeps seeing the next big TV show? I mean, “Teenage Exorcists” practically screams action-filled-series-for-kids-plus-tons-of-merchandise. And the way those three look reminds me of a cleaned-up Jesus approved version of “Charmed”! You know, it could totally be the next big thing on (Fundie)-Tv. It’s got Values and everything!

    • tyler

      as i understand it, they are currently trying to get a reality tv show

      • Nicholas Hylton

        That was probably their plan from the outset.

      • Kate Monster

        …Which I will watch. Because it will be hilarious.

    • Vi

      It could be marketed as a fundie alternative to Supernatural!

  • AAAtheist

    Although I, as an atheist, pretty much don’t have a problem with people’s potentially harmless religious beliefs, as long as they don’t interfere with church and state separation, exorcisms can go wrong and have gone wrong in a big way.

    Not to say these homeschoolers would in any way take this to the point of injury or death, but this has occurred. I just hope someone who isn’t affiliated with their church can step in and stop them in case one of their exorcisms starts to go south.

  • BobaFuct

    Fucking Millenials….

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Sorry, but no. No Millenial bashing allowed here on my blog. This story has nothing to do with Millenials, and I won’t tolerate that sort of ageism. (Also, as you’re probably aware, I’m a Millenial myself!)

      • BobaFuct

        Oh come on Libby Anne…taking a swipe at Millennials in an article about teenage exorcists?!? That’s subtly nuanced and highly relevant comedy (well, it’s comedy…). The jokes practically write themselves! (key word here is “jokes”…it was a joke…)

      • Saraquill

        Insulting someone and then saying “just kidding” does not take away the sting of the insult. It comes across as the speaker not wanting to take responsibility for being awful.

      • BobaFuct

        If I’d seriously meant what I’d said, I’d own it…particularly since I’m a Millennial by some definitions (born 1980), and I’m not one to throw stones in a glass house. I also fail to see how my original statement could be seen as anything but snarky humor…tough crowd, I guess.

      • Conuly

        You know what? When you step on somebody’s foot, you apologize, even if you didn’t mean to.

        If you offend somebody, you apologize, even if you didn’t mean to. If its “just a joke” then you should be able to say sorry and move on without all this song and dance.

      • BobaFuct

        “If you offend somebody, you apologize, even if you didn’t mean to.”

        Nope, that’s not how the free exchange of ideas works, and is completely contrary to pretty much everything that is discussed on this blog. Does Libby Anne apologize to all the homeschool folks and Quiverfull people who most certainly find her posts offensive? Or who find her views on feminism offensive? No. I made a joke that I think was broadly relevant and (kinda) funny. If you take offense at that, too bad.

        Also, look up the word “irony” and re-read my original post. And speaking of irony…it’s also ironic that a joke intended to skewer those who criticize Millennials has drawn the ire of said Millennials for being “ageist”. Congratulations internet, you win…

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        You made a joke. People didn’t know it was a joke. You told people it was a joke. They said they didn’t find it funny. It happens. And yes, if I had like you made a joke that I found offended people whose opinion I generally value, I would think about why it offended, adjust my future actions, and apologize. Being willing to criticize beliefs that cause actual harm is absolutely not in the same category as being unwilling to be introspective when you offend someone with a joke. I am seriously not trying to make a big deal of this (because like I said, it *happens*), but I thought I’d take a moment to respond because I feel like in this comment you’re misrepresenting how I approach things like this.

      • Conuly

        Thing is, jokes are supposed to be funny. Insults aren’t. You certainly weren’t funny.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Given the amount of crap through at Millenials in recent years, no, it was not clear that it was a “joke” (nor would I have found it funny even if I’d realized it was a joke, just like I don’t find pretend sexist or racist jokes funny either). Anyway, that’s not the point. A sarcasm marker might have made your intent clear.

      • BobaFuct

        With all due respect, if you’re equating my joke with a sexist or racist joke (which, jeez), then you completely missed the point of the joke.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Meh. I’m aware that my sense of humor isn’t identical to someone else’s sense of humor, and that what I might find funny someone else might not. But that’s beside the point, which was that I was not aware your original comment was satire, because it was identical to very real comments I’ve seen in way too many places in the last couple of years. Poe’s law and all that, I suppose.

      • The_L1985

        Dude. People thought it was an offensive comment towards us younger folk. The reasonable thing to do in such a situation is to say something like “I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I meant it as a joke. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear that I was being sarcastic.” Not blather on for numerous comments about how we don’t get or can’t take the joke.

    • Mary C

      Ok so I knew you were on the youngish side from something you posted a ways back. And therefore I immediately knew you were being sarcastic.

      I think that is the key. If you said this in person, where everyone could see that you are just past 30, people would’ve got it. But it is just as easy to imagine you are 50 or 75 on the internet, and then…this.

  • Gillianren

    Ooo, ooo! I have a reason they wouldn’t be any good at being exorcists!

  • Joykins

    Sounds like a good lead-in for an urban fantasy book…until I saw the name Bob Larson like a bad rerun.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      As long as “urban fantasy” doesn’t include “Celtic Urban Faeries.”

      That’s as overdone as “Elves, Dwarves, etc.”

      • The_L1985

        Oh, but there’s the one about Fae in New York, and the one about Fae in Chicago, and the one about Fae in Tulsa…there are just so many variations! :P

  • The Other Weirdo

    Maybe these girls just watched all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 5 days(’cause that’s not meant to happen) and went way overboard with it.

    • Christian Vagabond

      No, Larson says that watching Buffy gives you demons. His hook is that you can be possessed by demons even if you’re a born-again believer.That’s what keeps the money flowing.

    • Mary C

      I seriously think they are channeling Buffy, karate lessons and all, even if they won’t admit it.

  • luckyducky

    Creepy! Particularly the lede in which there are described as Teenage Evangelical Virgins… and what little Stepford Wives.

    But, yeah, it is offensive imperialism that these rich, white American suburbanites go “heal” the poor suffering Ukrainians. I thought the journalist (?) did a pretty good job of illustrating that these people had so few resources that even the promise of these whack jobs exorcising their demons is better than nothing. I am not going all Opiate of the Masses here, but this snake oil is so blatantly preying on people’s desperation.

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      OH MY GOODNESS yes that line where they were introduced as virgins… I was picking my jaw up off the floor…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Does virginity confer some special Magickal power?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Well, there are stories…

      • The_L1985

        It allows them to attract unicorns.

  • Hat Stealer

    Well, with all those karate lessons they took, if all else fails they can at least beat the demons out of their targets.

    • Kellen Connor

      Maybe they just really, really want to be Buffy.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    *sigh* Buffy was not a documentary…

    • Michael W Busch

      That was my thought. Real life is not a fantasy role-playing game…

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        I live in a county that is (seriously) cursed. I’ve seen some strange, unusual, and downright creepy things go down. I’ve set up wards around my home, and regularly cleanse the place with sage.

        And I’m still not running around with a cross and some blessed salt water trying to “exorcise” “demons” or slay things.

      • kraut2

        Please explain why what you are doing is by any means more sensible than what those teens are doing.
        Believe in nonsense and acting on it is idiocy different only in degree.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        For one, my practices do not place people in danger. Exorcism rituals can and have killed people.

        My practices don’t play on other people’s fears, insecurities, or mental illnesses.

        I don’t claim to “heal” or “cure” people of “demonic” influences.

        In short, the only one affected by my practices is… me. I know it’s all psychological drama anyway, and I like having a bit of fun with it.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Heh. A friend who is no longer a practicing Wiccan told me she cast spells, with full ritual and even occasional ritual bleeding with an athame, because she needed the mindspace and the ritual to help her make her decisions. If she cast a spell for clarity, for example, she knew it wasn’t really magic, but it would help her focus her thoughts nonetheless because she’d spent time and effort going into it, which means it was important enough to put real thought into.

      • The_L1985

        That’s sort of the way I look at it too, plus the “power of prayer” aspect.

  • Trollface McGee

    People have died because either they or their family thought they were possessed by demons and instead of getting them proper medical or psychiatric care, they hired exorcists or prayed for them and when that didn’t work, they blamed more demons, ordered more exorcisms, more prayer. It’s a convenient excuse – just blame demons – ignore the real issues and then when things go bad, blame the demons or the victim for not trying hard enough.

    • The_L1985

      Oh, indeed. “The devil made me do it!” is the worst excuse ever.

      I’m of the belief that Shataniel was made into a “devil” by the early Church because the Christians needed someone to blame for how nasty a lot of things in life really are.

  • Saraquill

    The similarities of their hair and facial expressions are creepy. It’s like they emerged from the Uncanny Valley, or Stepford.

    On a differnent note, I seriously doubt the Catholic church does any exorcisms these days. They do have a strict criteria as to what qualifies as possession. Even in the tragedy of Anneliese Michel, her parents were told 6 times that she wasn’t possessed, but horribly ill.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Oh look, another TV show about privileged white women acting crazy on TV for money. *yawn*

    • Kate Monster

      And yet nothing for me. I CAN BE CRAZY ON TV FOR MONEY, EXECUTIVES!!!!!!!

  • http://smashed-rat-on-press.com/ The Rodent

    Unbelievable… and quite creepy.

  • Rod

    It is astounding that this is happening in the 21st century in an advanced country. Why is everyone not laughing at these girls?

  • Nicholas Hylton

    So they tour the U.S. and the world exorcising demons? Add a Great Dane, a blue-green 1970′s van and you have a Evangelical Scooby Doo.

    • Highlander

      They’d need an ex-gay wearing as ascot too.

      • Nicholas Hylton

        lol! That would be so perfect!

      • Kate Monster

        This show just sounds better and better. Though if my time reading the Left Behind reviews over on Slacktivist has taught me anything, these kids are going to need to stock up on really expensive cell phones if they really want to to the Lord’s work.

  • Lyric

    I think it may have been first suggested on Fred Clarke’s Left Behind roasts, but sometimes I think that people raised in this culture are deprived of the mental tools to process fantasy in a sane and sensible manner. Most teenagers would play D&D, or write Buffy fic, or just read every urban fantasy in the library. These girls can’t do any of that, and they’re convinced that their existence is demon-haunted anyway, so it all comes out . . . bizarre.

    • The_L1985

      I fully agree. I remember as a child, the teachers at my fundie elementary school would accuse people, not of lying, but of “telling a story.” The implication was that story-telling was somehow wrong.

      The only movies we were allowed were ones that showed a moral message, implicitly or explicitly (and, for some reason, the Disney Sing-Along Songs VHS series). Cinderella, Robin Hood, McGee and Me, and various Christian-Brand films were A-OK. I offered to bring Aladdin once, and was refused because “it had magic” (again, note Cinderella up there).

      I later realized that the reasons Aladdin was taboo were:
      - They use the word “Allah” twice in the film–”False gods!!” As a child, I honestly didn’t even notice this–I just thought “It’s another word for God,” just like they used “doubting Mustapha” instead of “doubting Thomas.”

      - The Genie is a creature of magic, used for both good AND evil. The concept of slavery itself probably isn’t the issue here–it’s the moral ambiguity. If something can be used for evil, then it is evil.*

      - Jafar-as-genie in the ending looks positively demonic.

      - Not a European fairy tale, hence unfamiliar. Unfamiliar is bad because Satan lurks in all sorts of things.

      —————————————————————–

      * This is such bad logic it’s painful. I can use a hammer to build all sorts of wonderful things. I could also, given enough strength behind the blow, bash someone’s head in with a hammer. But no sane person would argue that hammers are evil.

      • Lunch Meat

        Oh, McGee and Me…

      • Saraquill

        What’s that about?

      • The_L1985

        It’s a fairly innocuous bit of Christian-Brand educational programming. Like Adventures in Odyssey, only less problematic.

        It’s also painfully cheesy, in an attempt to keep anyone, ever, from possibly beingoffended by it.

      • aim2misbehave

        Oh, god, just remembering that causes a few brain cells to die off…

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Gyaaaahhh, you made me remember!

      • Sarah-Sophia

        For a while I was also forbidden to watch Aladdin for a while, and when I did I didn’t understand why it was different from the other cartoons I watched.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I’ve read the original Aladdin. It’s actually an IRAQI fairy tale, originally set in a “land far to the East”.
        Just like Sinbad the Sailor’s home port was Basra, Iraq.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        As I understand it, “Al’lah” is just Arabic for “The God”‘; “the” as in Monotheism. As in “Big G God” in English.

      • The_L1985

        I know that now, but I wouldn’t have heard it from anywhere then.

        My father somehow insists that Allah is a separate being. I’ve been known to respond with, “And Mexicans don’t really worship God, either. They worship some guy named Dios.”

  • smrnda

    This load of nonsense is crying out to be debunked. Someone needs to fake demonic possession, recruit the teenage ‘exorcists’ and then provide us all a lesson in the powers of confirmation bias.

    • Christian Vagabond

      What Larson does is very similar. He tours from town to town offering spiritual warfare tips – for a fee. He plants people in the audience to come forth claiming to have demons. Then he “heals” them on stage.

      • cat butler

        That’s his daughter in the video. Just making it a family grift

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        For what it’s worth, I first heard of Bob Larson in Kooks Magazine, mentioned in the article “He Sold His Soul To Rock & Roll” about Christianese denunciations of rock music as Satanic. (This was around the time Backwards Masking was a fad.)

        I can’t remember if Larson was the one identified in the article as “Jack Chick’s former hatchetman against rock music.”

    • Mogg

      Have a look for John Safran v’s God on YouTube. He’s done it once – why not again?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Have you ever heard of the “Seven Sons of Sceva” in the Bible? Book of Acts, specifically. They apparently were mighty exorcists of the time, having a grand time casting out Demons — until the day they ran into a REAL one.

  • TLC

    Ah, the good old days of spiritual warfare (teary sniff). Praying constantly for protection. Examining every nansecond of your life under a microscope to make sure you won’t give the demons an opening to get in. Anointing your house with vegetable oil. Being the best “prayer warrior” you could be. Playing your Christian CDs and singing at the top of your lungs to drive back the darkness. . . . . . Yes, I did all of this and more in the name of keeping my son and me spiritually “safe.” Until I finally figured out that if you would just relax and follow God, the rest would fall into place. I was looking at the wrong thing.

    I very much believe that demons exist. However, I also believe they get WAAAYYYYY too much credit for the bad things that happen. They’re also an easy scapegoat for people who don’t want to take responsibility for their actions, or face the possibility that someone close to them has some problems to deal with.

    These girls are being used by this man to spice up his show. Nothing more. If this man really believed they have the power and authority to exorcise demons, he’d be sening them out on their own. Or maybe he thinks their gifts aren’t valid if a man’s not around.

    I was HORRIFIED to see him kick that woman out! He says he’s a man of God who casts out demons. Then why wasn’t he casting out this one? Why wasn’t he praying for healing? This shows me he’s not the healer he thinks he is.

    • CarysBirch

      Yeah, the hypocrisy in that was staggering. “I don’t know if she’s possessed or mentally ill [fill in blanks: I believe I can cast out demons, and therefore cure one of these two states, but I won't even bother trying] so she needs to leave now!”

      Hum, someone not confident that their technique really works? Surprise surprise.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I am very skeptical of Spiritual Warfare types. Like they’re LARPing Frank Peretti (who himself had to discontinue his “Spiritual Warfare” novels because — like one of Mercedes Lackey’s urban fantasy series — he attracted too many creepy fanboys who didn’t realize the books were fiction).

      To me, “Spiritual Warriors” are just today’s version of self-appointed Witchfinder-Generals in the Burning Times. And they have fallen prey to a known Christian heresy: “Attributing too much power to the Devil.”

      They have made the Devil so powerful that God would be defeated if He didn’t have these Mighty Spiritual Warriors to fight for Him, sniffing out DEMONS like the Witchfinders-General sniffed out Witches. I wonder if the reason they get so shrill is because they have made the Devil so Omnipotent that deep down inside they’re afraid they’re on the losing side.

  • CarysBirch

    These girls do SO many things I wouldn’t have been allowed in my teenage years. They may not listen to Harry Potter, but they’re not dressed in the homeschool jumper either. Nor do they have the plain, long, unstyled hair my friends had. Not to mention karate was something my parents would have considered a likely avenue toward possession.

    It always staggers me how certain evangelical flavors preach modesty, but simultneously emphasize physical perfection. And it makes me sad for the girls when they’re no longer young and radiant. I think they’ll find their patron finds them all used up.

  • Christian Vagabond

    Given their connection to Larson, odds are they know their dad’s exorcism racket is a scam and they’re just following in dad’s footsteps. I wouldn’t take them as seriously as i would a teenaged homeschooler. Most fundamentalist kids buy into the rhetoric they’re taught. But Larson’s more interested in making money than religion. Think about kids raised by con men. As they get older, they’re going to want to learn how to con people, too.

  • Highlander

    I love how their “intense” training lasts weeks or even months,’cause casting out millennia old demons is easier than getting an AA degree from your local community college. Honestly, if god is doing the casting out why do you need training?

  • Nicola

    Black belts in karate? I’m surprised they haven’t tried to exorcise their senseis.

    Sidenote: This probably varies wildly based on style and sensei, but in my experience by the time you get as far as black belt there’ll be at least some expecation that you understand the more philosophical side of karate which, for most liberal Christians (or liberals of any faith) doesn’t contradict their faith, but which I think would make most evangelicals at least a little uncomfortable, if not crying out for Jesus.

    • Michael W Busch

      It is not relevant to the outrageous and exploitative wrongness here, but as a sometime-karateka* I do wonder what their training actually involved.

      Having a black belt is not something any of the people I trained with would usually have be mentioned in a public-interest piece, because there are far too many mcdojos who will give black belts that are don’t mean much at all and then hype them.

      But sending these three off to be run through an actual serious dan test is not necessary – and is really only a distraction from their confusing life for a fantasy LARP.

      *I stopped training heavily a while back. When I took the Shotokan Karate of America shodan test, they didn’t pass me because I wasn’t attacking the opponents in kumite as though I meant to hurt them – which was true.

  • Jaded

    I feel so sorry for the people sitting in that first church (that’s about as far as I got), listening to the guy speak and hoping, praying or outright believing that having their ‘demons’ cast out will stop the pain and suddenly they’ll feel OK again. The idea that inner demons can be actual beings, that they’re not part of you and that something else is making you feel that way is so tempting. Because it means they really can be cast out, that it’s a battle not a war. It means that once that battle is over you won’t feel powerless or guilty or ashamed or dirty any more. That will all have gone away, because that was the demon.

    And this guy, this guy peddles that idea, teaches his kid and her friends that idea (ironically while simultaneously teaching them that their virginity is worth a ridiculous amount) and these children who have no idea what the people they’re ‘exorcising’ have gone through, stand there kind of smugly enjoying the applause and the adulation because they don’t realise what it means to the person.

    Everybody else is just making cracks about Buffy.

  • Boo

    I don’t know if anyone else has said this, but this looks like exploitation. It is one thing if Bob Larson wants to act like a fool on television, but it is entirely another thing to put children on television to show off their ‘magic powers’. Every time I see something like this I’m reminded of Marjo Gortner. His parents claimed he was called to preach at 4 years old, but really his parents abused and exploited him to get money out of ignorant religious people. If money and kids are involved warning bells should be going off in everyone’s heads. Unfortunately, my experience has been that if these crooks say Jesus or Bible then the evangelical community will stand behind them no matter how weird they are. It’s like the Duggars. Nobody I know will admit how bizarre they are. No matter what they do or what crap comes out of their mouths, everyone I know just wants to talk about what a good, wholesome, Christian family they are. But in a few years when the kids write a book or do a tell all interview everyone will claim they had no idea.

  • Mel

    The Catholic Church has very stringent requirements on exorcisms for a reason. Most people who are “possessed” are actually suffering from medical conditions that need help, not demonic possession. That’s why a huge list of outside conditions needs to be excluded before the church will let an exorcism be performed. Even then, it is performed under controlled conditions with trained medical professionals available.

    It is grossly inappropriate to send teenagers to perform exorcisms. It’s a drama rush for the girls and abusive to the recipients.

    • Ibis3

      Most people who are “possessed” are actually suffering from medical conditions that need help, not demonic possession.

      Well, since no one is actually suffering from demonic possession, that’s a pretty safe statement.

    • luckyducky

      Yeah, and the Vatican’s top exorcists is a seriously unbalanced individual. He claim 160,000 exorcisms. If they all happened during his “official” career as an exorcist, that works out to more than 16/day with no breaks – how can the level of screening you indicate take place at that rate? He also claims yoga and Harry Potter are satanic even though he hasn’t actually read HP.

      While I think that Harry Potter is actually very consistent with RCC/Anglican theology and obviously influenced by Tolkien who was definitely working from RCC theology, I am willing to accept that people are concerned about confusion over good/black magic. What I am not willing to accept as reasonable is that the use of the word magic in the context of fantasy writing automatically makes something morally suspect if not automatically verboten.

      And stretching while meditating? Come on… the dominant practice of yoga in the western parted ways with Hinduism long ago and the techniques for entering a meditative state can be adapted to any religious context.

      Then again, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff was pretty formative in my religious education.

      • Mel

        I’d never heard of the guy so I did some quick internet research. I’m betting that he’s badly overplaying his hand to sell books.

        Our parish priest did a really fun and highly popular series of adult classes on the theology of the Harry Potter series. It was preceded by the theology of the LOTR series. We’ve also had a combination yoga/centering prayer group for nearly a decade.

        I love Lamb. It’s awesome.

        In short, I’m betting Amorth is nutty himself.

      • luckyducky

        Frankly, I don’t think “overplaying his hand to sell books” is any sort of excuse but a terrible one. Whether you believe in the potential for demon-possession or think it is a pre-Enlightenment concept that we have been able to vanquish thanks to the wonders of medical science, it would be offensive for this “spiritual leader” to speak in hyperbole about it to make a little more money.

        I think I’d rather he believed his nonsense than that he deliberately play on people’s fear, particularly because he is RCC and from a era when “obedience” was something those with Roman collars could expect as a matter of course.

        It is breaking that one rule about not bearing false witness to deliberately exaggerate like that but downright abusive to exaggerate from a position of authority with the intent to incite fear — for one’s eternal soul no less.

      • Caddy Compson

        I’m late to the conversation, but I’m willing to bet that if you pointed out the mathematical discrepancy to him, he would explain it by referencing Mary Magdalene–who had seven demons cast out of her. So he’d probably say he hasn’t performed 160,000 separate exorcisms, but that he’s exorcised 160,000 demons–multiple demons coming out of the same person.

    • Mel

      I should probably clarify that I’ve never actually heard of any exorcisms being done in my area….ever. I know the procedures exist, but the couple of priests who I asked about it stated firmly and clearly that if you think a demon is possessing you, you need medical help.

      I don’t believe in demonic possessions but I’m glad my church has a way to funnel people who need medical help toward help rather than sic teen-age girls on them.

  • ako

    Savannah revealed that she herself underwent an exorcism at age 18 after suffering from extreme depression and sickness.

    That’s really scary. I hope that the depression doesn’t come back, or at least, if it does, she’s not too scared or ashamed to have the “demon” return to seek actual help.

  • Sarah-Sophia

    I saw quite a few “exorcisms” growing up. I’m convinced that what it’s actually doing is allowing people to release pent up stress and anxiety. It maybe a good short term placebo but not a cure to fix drug and sexual abuse.

  • Tracy Caraker

    How much money do you think they’re raking in?

    • Christian Vagabond

      I looked it up. Bob Larson charges $400-500 for a one-on-one exorcism. I couldn’t find an exact number the girls charge, but they say it’s a few hundred dollars.

      • Tracy Caraker

        They are ridiculous. The “Buffy” triplets :-/

  • KeithCollyer

    If I were Satan, I would have my demons possess exorcists

    • The_L1985

      The perfect crime!

  • Christine

    I know that it’s not reasonable to say that people who feel that their appearance is something they care about are less capable/intellegent/etc, but it’s very difficult to overcome the fact that they’re all done up to within an inch of their lives, and have picture-perfect smiles, and that creepy pose. How am I supposed to take something seriously when it looks so polished?

  • Justin

    The stupidity is galling.

  • Guest

    What’s going on with the people who seem to be demon-possessed, that’s what fascinates me…are they playing along, or is it like a kind of hyponotism? Has anyone studied this?

    • Christian Vagabond

      It’s like the fundamentalist version of a shaman. People read or listen to Bob Larson (who’s the one daughter’s dad and the person “training” them) and he outlines the symptoms that you may be possessed by a demon. The symptoms are vague enough that it’s easy to worry that you’re possessed If you buy into his schtick. He says that demons can enter you via almost any secular movie, song, or book you read, so odds are you’ve exposed yourself to danger. Then you buy his books and find out how to get rid of the demon. Once you’ve done that, you’re grateful for his help, so you give him regular donations as appreciation.

  • aim2misbehave

    I wanna see fashionable teenage fundie exorcists as the victims/villains of the week sometime in this next season of Supernatural :-)

  • Naomi

    A friend of mine used to have two particularly hilariously bad books about Spiritual Warfare, “He Came to Set the Captives Free” and “Prepare for War.” The woman who wrote the books (Rebecca Brown, M.D., who apparently had her license taken away when it was discovered that she’d been giving her patients unneeded narcotics to try to make them addicts….no doubt she was framed by Satan) had a long, long list of ways in which you could wind up possessed by demons, and one of them was martial arts. In particular, I remember she said that if someone had a black belt, they must have KNOWINGLY sold their soul.

    (You could also get possessed by shopping at a co-op, because the vegan hippy satanists who owned natural food co-ops were sprinkling demon seeds in with the wheat germ. I AM NOT MAKING THIS PART UP, SHE ACTUALLY SAYS THIS. I am paraphrasing, but only barely!)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Tip, Libby Anne:
    In an age of extremes such as today, it’s impossible to do satire.
    Because as over-the-top crazy as you get for snarky humor, there’s going to be some True Believer out there twice as over-the-top crazy and Dead Serious.


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