Exorcist with strong connection to reality gives us his credible take on why people are atheists.

Gabriele Amorth is a priest and “expert exorcist”.  He’s such an expert that he founded the International Association of Exorcists in 1990.  Think Ghostbusters, but without being able to see any ghosts and without any technology to deal with the ghosts you can’t see.

He thinks the demand for exorcisms is on the rise.

The Catholic Church’s leading exorcist says he will ask Pope Francis to grant all priests the power to perform the ritual amid what he describes as “a huge demand” for the service.

Father Gabriele Amorth, who claims to have carried out 160,000 exorcisms himself, says he was prompted to make the request after witnessing what he insists was the Pope carrying one out in St Peter’s Square earlier this month.

160,000?  That’s quite a lot.  Especially when you consider recent numbers.  In March, 2010 Amorth claimed to have performed 70,000 exorcisms.  Demons everywhere!  It’s been about 1,156 days since then, and the number has already gone up to 160,00 exorcisms.  That’s an average of 77.85 exorcisms every day since March 2010, or 3.2 exorcisms every hour assuming he has never slept or taken a day off.  One can only wonder when he eats or visits the little boys room.

So Amorth, who is not at all full of shit, thinks other people should get to perform exorcisms (because he’s been holding it for three years now…no time to go with all these demons running around!).  Why?  He saw the pope perform an unintentional exorcism:

Francis was filmed placing his hands on the head of a boy sitting in a wheelchair after a Pentecost Mass.

The boy, who was accompanied by a priest, appeared to convulse, with his mouth dropping wide open before exhaling deeply. (Scroll down for video.)

The Vatican played down reports Francis had applied the religious practice of evicting demons, with a spokesman claiming the Pope “didn’t intend to perform any exorcism.

This exorcism was caught on tape.  So, take a minute, collect yourself, grab a towel in case you pee your pants, and get ready to be amazed.

Clearly, there is no other viable explanation (like that this guy was a Catholic after a mass he’d just attended being excited that the pope was praying over him) other than that the man in the wheelchair was possessed by demons which were inadvertently driven out through the use of magic words.

Hey look!  Here’s confirmed (and admitted) con man Peter Popoff performing exorcisms!  Maybe he can take some of the pressure off the Catholic Church.  Oh, what’s that?  He’s not really performing exorcisms even though the reactions from the people they’re touching on the forehead are virtually identical?  Oh…it has to be a high-ranking Catholic official doing the touching and saying the Catholic Church’s brand of magic words…otherwise it’s just pretend.  Got it.

Demonic possession is obviously a grave threat.  Can you imagine what would’ve happened had this particular old guy not placed his hands over that guy’s head and said those exact words?  What if the pope had said a wrong word by mistake?  Who knows what would’ve happened?

I’m gonna go with “nothing”.  Not a god damned thing.  That the man is confined to a wheelchair seems to be a much more pressing (and tangible) issue than demonic possession.  You’d think, as long as god was dispensing the ability to cure maladies, he’d also imbue priests with the ability to cure cancer or at least the common cold.  But nope, they only get the power to drive out invisible demons which can only be seen by the people furnishing the emperor with new clothes on the exorcism squad.  This is why mortal doctors equipped only with human knowledge, who cure far more evident maladies as well as a much greater variety of them, are infinitely more impressive than exorcists who have supposedly been given divine power by god.

Or how about this: if god wants demons out of people, and he’s so damn powerful, why not snap his fingers and exorcise the demons himself?  Why let some people live with demonic possession?  Clearly god is willing to intervene by creating a ritual for high-ranking Catholics to do that will expunge the demons.  If he was all wise, why not intervene more efficiently?

Anyway, Amorth insists the dropping of the man’s jaw was explicable only if what took place was an exorcism, and he wants the Vatican to acknowledge it, because this, this will convince atheists that the devil is real.

But in an interview with The Sunday Times, Amorth remains adamant an exorcism was carried out and appears to suggest the ritual will help balance the growth of atheism.

He said: “The Pope’s exorcism is a splendid sign because one of the main causes of today’s atheism is that people don’t believe in the Devil any more. But Jesus said: ‘Who is not with me is with Satan.’ If you don’t believe in Satan, Satan has got you in his pocket.

Not believing in the devil isn’t the cause of atheism, it’s the definition.  That’s like saying being in shape is the leading cause of athleticism.

And the Vatican declaring that this was an exorcism will do as much for convincing atheists that the devil is real as all of Amorth’s 160,000 exorcisms, which really took place.  Really.

Look, we’re not like Catholics: we don’t take whatever the Vatican says as truth.  Until you give us evidence that demons are real or that Amorth and the pope are doing anything other than putting their hands on people and mumbling (which, honestly, isn’t terribly impressive), we will regard this process as a childish endeavor with one main difference: a child at least has the maturity to know when it’s pretending.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Zinc Avenger

    Maybe there were, like, 90,000 demons in one really possessed guy. I hear they can be real small.

    Or maybe he’s exorcised some lucky people of 90,000 of those demonic dollar bills?

    • Don Gwinn

      You know, that actually might be his real explanation. They are Legion, right?

      • kagekiri

        Yeah, and the Bible has some crap about exorcising one demon, and it coming back later with 7 buddies to repossess the same person. It also says Mary Magdelene had 7 demons in the past…so yeah.

        Go go spirit multiplier bonus!

    • Loqi

      How does one know how many demons were cast out? Is it just a gut feeling, or is there some kind of demometer? Perhaps Jesus beams a number into his head?
      It simply couldn’t be that the number of demons that need exorcising is proportional to your discretionary income, since we know a priest would never swindle a troubled individual or a desperate parent. This is the Catholic Church we’re talking about, here.

      • Zinc Avenger

        You check the receipt, obviously.

      • Drakk

        There’s a progress tracker. You get an achievement and bonus XP for every 1000.

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

          At 250,000, do you get a nifty title? Like ‘the Ghostbuster’ or something?

        • John H

          I’m thinking a Google Glass app…

  • rovinrockhound

    That’s an average of 77.85 exorcisms every day since March 2010, or 3.2
    exorcisms every hour assuming he has never slept or taken a day off.
    One can only wonder when he eats or visits the little boys room.

    It feels so wrong to laugh.

    It is baffling that there are educated adults (even if what they learn is not true, RCC priests do study for a long time) that think that evil spirits can take over a person’s will. It’s even more shocking that these people believe that they have the power to shoo those spirits away. And then they complain about Harry Potter.

    • JTEberhard

      Glad somebody caught what I did there.

  • baal

    Let’s play, every time I tell you I see a ghost, you give me a dollar. You might start getting afraid of ghosts pretty fast.

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Hey, its totally possible. I’ve slain hundreds of ghosts in the last
    month. Those damn Ascalonians just won’t leave the poor Charr alone. Of
    course, I’ve got the loot to show for it. A magnificent demon-slayer
    like this guy must have some seriously epic gear right?

    • Loqi

      He’s got some serious AoE.

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

        Yeah, but the feats to make your spells actually hit ghosts are murder on a build. He’s clearly a sub-optimal cleric.

        • invivoMark

          It doesn’t take many feats. A high-level good or neutral cleric can destroy several low-level ghosts on command per day, as long as they’re within 60 feet and the cleric has a high enough charisma modifier.

          Of course, if he’s evil (and who’s pretending that he isn’t?), he doesn’t destroy those ghosts; he gets to control them.

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

            30 feet, not 60 feet. Channeling isn’t that good.

          • invivoMark

            d20srd says otherwise:http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/specialAttacks.htm
            “Range: You turn the closest turnable undead first, and you can’t turn undead that are more than 60 feet away or that have total cover relative to you.”

            Maybe it’s different in other versions of D&D, but in the correct version (3.5), it’s 60 ft. ;-)

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

            Lol. I’m too used to Pathfinder now. Good clerics can channel to heal the living or harm the undead (3.5 channeling was fear them, only destroy if you had 5+ HD on them or Destruction domain) but range was reduced to 30′ since the ability got a serious buff. Evil clerics do the reverse- channel to harm the living or heal the undead, also within 30′. They can, of course, choose to exclude themselves from the effects of channeling.

          • invivoMark

            Oh, that makes sense then. Never played Pathfinder.

            I’m in a newbie 3.5 group now. We’ve got a cleric who’s bummed that his character just got turned evil. I keep telling him to wait until we level up a bit and encounter some undead. :-)

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

            Hehe, yeah. I played a few times in 3.5 with a LN cleric of Wee Jas who channeled negative energy (thus, control UD). Those poor undead never saw it coming!

          • http://www.facebook.com/anonomouse.fred Anonomouse Fred

            Always wanted to play one of those. I wanted skeletons who were rubbed down nice and clean with pumice stones dressed up in full plate armor with little sachets of
            around their necks. as the temple guards. Mix in some acolytes dressed the same way as a suprise to all would be necromancers who tried to take over.

          • http://www.facebook.com/anonomouse.fred Anonomouse Fred

            Alignment is how the player uses the character. Unless it could be shown that I was actually playing someone evil I’d have real big problems with something that just “turned you evil” like flicking a switch.

            Does that mean I’m now expected to be making predominately evil actions, or am I good guy who keeps doing the stuff I’ve been doing but now I detect as evil?

            If it was the now you have to start taking evil actions, I’d rather be dead and roll a new one. As technically the character was killed when that happened.

          • Nate Frein

            The only time I change alignments for a PC is when the player has been acting consistently in a way that does not reflect their chosen alignment, i.e. a “good” cleric stealing things.

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

            Or for mechanical things like lycanthropy.

          • invivoMark

            Oh, no, we murdered about two dozen children. Also some street beggars.

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

            Then, yeah, your DM might have been justified in saying your alignment changed lol. I really can’t say too much though; our groups, when forced to come up with a ‘team name’, inevitably pick KTATTS (Kill Things and Take Their Stuff) and call themselves murder hobos.

            I’m actually struggling a bit on this alignment thing with some of my players. They’re pirates, mostly CN, but they do skirt the “evil” line quite a bit. One of them pointed out “but I do Not. Eat. People” which I did have to concede. One of the other characters had, in fact, eaten people and was pointed to by all the players as the evil character, which they were all not-as-evil-as. And while they steal and loot a lot (well, they are pirates), they don’t usually murder people out of hand. So …

          • Loqi

            Quoting scripture: it’s not just for theists anymore.

          • islandbrewer
          • busterggi

            “but in the correct version (3.5), ”
            1st edition AD&D ya bloody redactor!

  • Loqi

    As soon as I saw the 160,000, I busted out the calculator. One exorcism a day seems like it would be a pretty grueling schedule, so we divide that by 365 and find that would take….438 years at the rate of one per day. He must have his exorcism powers set to full auto or something.

    Either that, or the guy isn’t very good at math. Which wouldn’t be surprising, seeing as how he isn’t very good at reality.

    • Michael W Busch

      Another option: he claims to do mass exorcisms on any group of people he encounters. Which would raise the question of scalability and why there are still demons to be exorcised – if there actually were such things, we’d have killed them more thoroughly than we killed smallpox.

      Conclusion: Amorth is making stuff up.

      • Loqi

        Even that seems high to me. The number of people I see daily (not even interact with, just *see*) isn’t high enough to reach that total unless I exorcised the same people multiple times (though that probably says more about me than him…). Perhaps that’s the key. Exorcise the demon, but not so hard that it can’t just hop back in immediately for you to exorcise again. You can really boost your score that way. It’s like win trading in a video game, except the video game is more tangible.

        • Michael W Busch

          Say he claimed to exorcise a few hundred people at a time at a mass, and travels around giving masses to different groups. Then he would only need to do one mass exorcism every week or so.

          • baal

            One mass exorcism per Mass. That sounds both massive and like a mass (of something). I wonder where the massochists fit in.

            Why did the Kilrathi strap two over weight priests to his craft? He wanted bigger mass drivers!

        • kagekiri

          Well, they do talk about demons being cast out, then coming back to repossess people in the Bible, since God doesn’t (can’t?) kill them.

          In other words, mob respawn is Biblical. This priest could totally be farming a few possessed dudes over and over again for the extra XP.

          • Loqi

            I wonder if he’ll reroll once he hits level cap.

          • kagekiri

            Isn’t re-rolling part of buddhism? They’re big fans of New Game +.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      It could be a question if semantics. If you exorcise 10,000 demons at a go, does that count as one exorcism or 10,000?

      • Loqi

        I’d count that as one. He only performed one ritual. If he meant he’s exorcised that many demons, he should have made it more clear!

  • Loqi

    I wonder if there’s a certification process for becoming an expert exorcist. I’m imagining the text being a coloring book and the lab portion consisting of playing make-believe with the neighborhood children.

  • randomfactor

    visits the little boys room.

    After lights-out, presumably.

  • randomfactor

    Someone tell this clown about the millions of daemons infesting the Internet. Why, I bet there are some inside the Vatican webservers RIGHT NOW.

    • Loqi

      The spirit of Christ SIGKILLs you!

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

        Why do I know enough to giggle at this?!

  • busterggi

    Now who created all these evil demons that infest Amorth’s religion? Oh, yes, it was his omnibenevolent god. Know God, know demons. No God, no demons – no coincedence.

  • Little Magpie

    > Think Ghostbusters, but without being able to see any ghosts and without any
    > technology to deal with the ghosts you can’t see.

    Yeah, and the actual Ghostbusters were much cooler than this priestly exorcism business, even with those cheezy 1980′s special effects, amirite?