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Satanism, Demon Posession, Exorcisms and Ritual Abuse

From: “John Clark”
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2003 6:45 PM
Subject: New Book Ritual Abuse

Dear Sir / New Book/ Ritual Abuse

I was visiting your web site and thought that you might like to read about the book that I just had published that might be of some help to you. you will not be contacted again but feel free to contact me for more information. This is not spam and this is not a mailing llist.


John Clark Ph.D.

EDITORS:For review copies or interview requests, contact Promotions Department
Tel: 800-839-8640 ext. 244
Fax: 812-339-6554

Overcoming the Abuse
New book offers hope for those who suffered satanic ritual abuse

Battle Creek, Mich-When Rev. John Clark, Ph.D., decided to author “ The Healing of Satanically Ritually Aabused Multiple Personality Disorder” (now available through 1stbooksLibary), he had one goal in mind-helping the victims fo satanic ritual abuse find some hope.

“I want survivors to know there is hope, “ Rev. Clark, Ph.D., said about his new book. you can be healed, and set free. Donʼt give up.” Clark, who has a bachelorʼs degree in Religion from Bethany Bible College and a masterʼs and doctorate in Christian Counseling psychology, is a member of the American Society of Christian Therapist and has nearly a decade of pastoral experience and six years as a hospital chaplain. he has worked for more than 500 hours with Satanically Ritually Abused Multiple Personality Disorder.
It is through his experience, as well as actual interviews, that Clark penned this book to try to assist others in the field of counseling and in particular those dealing with satanic ritual abuse cases.
A book of hope, encouragement and help, The Healing of satanically Ritually Abused Multiple Personality Disorder Takes an honest look at the problems of abuse-especially abuses durning the early childhood- and offers advise on dealing with the aftermath.
Can be ordered through Barns & Noble, Borders,, or order direct by calling 888-280-7715. Preview the book at

About 1Stbooks Library

The oldest and most successful print-on-demand and eBook publishing company of its kind, 1stbooks Library was founded in 1997 and has helped more than 15,000 people world-wide realize their dreams of becoming a published author.

please put this address on your web site.

Satanism, Demon Posession, Exorcisms and Ritual Abuse

From: “ed babinski”
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2003 6:12 PM
Subject: Re: New Book Ritual Abuse

I recʼd your book advert, Mr. Clark. So tell me, how many people were “ritually Satanically abused in their childhoods?” Can you give me a verifiable number?

And, do you study the topic of Satan and Exorcisms in anything other than an “Evangelical Christian” light?

Perhaps you should read the following excepts from a wide variety of sources before trying to start your own “Satanic Panic” for the new millennium:

Former Satanists Who Became Evangelical Christians And The “Satanic Panic” Of The 1980s

Speaking of “former Satanists who became evangelical Christians,” their “testimonies” have been questioned even by fellow Christians. Take Mike Warnke, the “former Satan worshiper” whose “autobiography,” The Satan Seller, became a Christian best seller. Two Christian reporters who interviewed numerous people from Warnkeʼs past, soon discovered that he had a long history of being a “storyteller,” and that the tales in his book seriously conflicted with what other people said Warnke was doing at that time in his life. I heartily recommend the book those Christian reporters wrote, Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke by Hertenstein and Trott.

Presumably it was those same reporters (working for the Christian magazine, Cornerstone) who investigated Lauren Stratfordʼs claims in her Christian best seller, Satanʼs Underground. “They turned up so many contradictions that it became clear that little if anything in the book could be trusted as the literal truth. In fact not even the authorʼs name was real, it was Laurel Rose Wilson, and she came from a strict Christian family and only began claiming she had been the victim of a satanic cult in 1985, when two sensational cases surfaced in the national news. Though she displays scars on her body, claiming they were inflicted during rituals by satanic-cult members, the reporters state that they found witnesses who had seen her inflict the wounds herself. At one point she claimed to be blind, but it was discovered that she could see. There was no medical evidence that she had ever been pregnant (which was significant because Ms. Wilson claimed that two of her own babies had been sacrificed in snuff films). The publishers withdrew Satanʼs Underground from publication in January 1990.” (Laurence Gonzales, “Satanic Panic,” Penthouse, 1989?)

Another “Satan seller” is Dr. Rebecca Brown. Her tales of “Satanic cult abuse” (He Came To Set The Captives Free) were published by Jack Chick, who specializes in publishing mini-comic books portraying demons and hellfire. “Dr. Rebecca Brown” was originally “an Indiana physician named Ruth Bailey, who had her license removed by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana for a number of reasons. Among the boardʼs seventeen findings are: Bailey knowingly misdiagnosed serious illnesses, including brain tumors and leukemia, as ‘caused by demons, devils, and other evil spirits;’ she told her patients that doctors at Ball Memorial Hospital and St. Johnʼs Medical Center were ‘demons, devils, and other evil spirits’ themselves; and she falsified patient charts and hospital records. The boardʼs report states: ‘Dr. Bailey also addicted numerous patients to controlled substances which required them to suffer withdrawal and undergo detoxification, and that she self-medicated herself with non-therapeutic amounts of Demerol which she injected on an hourly basis.’ A psychiatrist appointed by the board to diagnose Bailey described her as ‘suffering from acute personality disorders including demonic delusions and/or paranoid schizophrenia.’ Refusing to appear before the board, Bailey moved to California, changed her name to Rebecca Brown, and began working with Jack Chick.” (David Alexander, “Giving the Devil More Than His Due: For Occult Crime ‘Experts’ and the Media, Anti-Satanist Hysteria Has Become A Growth Industry,” The Humanist, March/April 1990) Jack Chick recently stopped publishing Brownʼs books, “We used to publish her books. Then the Lord told us he didnʼt want us to put ʻem out anymore.” (Jack Chick, speaking to Dwayne Walker in 1997)

Even the editors of Christianity Today praised a book in which well-documented research showed that the problem with the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s was that “rumor was prevailing over truth, and people, particularly Christians, are too believing.” The Christian book reviewer cited a case in a megachurch in Chicago where one man was “disfellowshipped” because a female in the congregation “freaked out” whenever she saw him on Sunday mornings, claiming he was a “Satanic cult leader” who had “ritually abused her.” “The man was not allowed to face his accuser, nor would they discuss with the man any specific dates or events of alleged crimes. Though the man denied the allegations, and the elders and pastor of the church saw no evidence of sin in the manʼs life, they felt compelled to protect the accuser.” The review continued, “To date there has been no investigation that has substantiated the claims of alleged Satanic abuse survivors. Recovered ‘memories’ are the only evidence any specialist will offer…Well-meaning but uncritical therapists have validated, if not helped to construct, vile fantasies that foment a terror of Satan rather than confidence in God…In periods of rising concern over actual child abuse and sexual immorality the historical tendency has been to find scapegoats for social ills. A despised segment of society is depicted as the perpetrator of a villainous conspiracy. Romans accused the early Christians of wearing black robes, secretly meeting in caves, and performing animal and baby mutilation. In the Middle Ages, the scapegoat was the Jews. In America of the 1830s and 40s, kidnapping and murder of children were said to be the work of the Catholics. A best-selling book of the time, The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, chronicled the atrocities committed by priests and nuns at a particular convent. That account sparked myriad copycat claims by other young women.”
(Susan Bergman, “Rumors from Hell,” Christianity Today, Vol. 38, No. 3, March, 1994 — a review of Jeffrey S. Victorʼs, Satanic Panic)

The modern “Satanic cult hysteria” only began in 1981 with the publication of the best-seller, Michelle Remembers. “Prior to 1981 there were no reports of ‘satanic-cult torture and murder.’ We have none on record, and I challenge you to find any in the psychiatric or scientific literature.” So says F.B.I. Special Agent Kenneth Lanning (who has a masterʼs degree in behavioral science and whose published work on the sexual victimization of children is well-known in the law-enforcement and psychology fields). (Interestingly enough, the article featuring Lanningʼs statement appeared in Penthouse magazine, while the statements directly preceding Lanningʼs appeared in Christianity Today. Itʼs nice to know that Christians and secularists, can agree on some matters!)

There are indeed practicing “Satanists” in America, but the F.B.I. has been studying ritual criminal behavior for many years and has not found evidence of any organized “satanic menace.” According to Lanning, “I started out believing this stuff [about ritual murders by organized satanic-cults]. I mean, I had been dealing with bizarre crimes for many years and I knew from experience that almost anything is possible…But I canʼt find one documented case [of satanic-cult victimization], and Iʼve been looking for seven years or more. I personally have investigated some 300 cases — and there is not a shred of evidence of a crime.” He mentioned how psychiatric patients [and/or people who undergo hypnosis to “recover memories”] are the ones claiming such crimes took place, but when the alleged crime scene is investigated there is never a trace of blood or bone, though the F.B.I. has many means to detect even the faintest traces of splashed blood, and whole lawns and farm fields have been dug up in search of bones and bone fragments though none were found.

Satan-mongers inflate statistics, claiming that “according to the F.B.I., two million children are missing each year.” “Itʼs wrong,” said Lanning. The Justice Department (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, January 1989) reported that between 52 and 58 children were kidnapped and murdered by non-family members in 1988. The “Cult Crime Network” claims that “50,000 human sacrifices” are being performed each year by “satanic cults.” But there are only 20,000 murders, total in the U.S. each year, and that figure accounts for all the gang, drug, domestic, and “regular” murders in the country.

People do commit strange crimes. Some may even be committing human sacrifice in the name of Satan. But there is absolutely no evidence of any widespread, organized satanic movement. At one conference on Satanism in America in 1989 the same photo of a boy whose death was “linked to Satanism” was dragged out by just about everyone interviewed by a reporter covering the conference, implying that was the one and only corpse in the U.S. that could be traced to satanic-cult activity, and it was the result of an isolated incident that could not be connected in any way with an organized group.

As Lanning sums things up, “The fact is that more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, and Muhammad than has ever been committed in the name of Satan.” [See also Kenneth Lanning, “Satanic, Occult, Ritualistic Crime: A Law Enforcement Perspective,” The Police Chief (Fall 1989)]

- E.T.B.

Freakish Christians like to pretend that the majority of the United States is comprised of “Satanists.” That way they can excuse the fact that Christianity doesnʼt work.
- Fredric Rice

Devils Devils Everywhere, So Throw A Pot Of Ink!

The Father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, saw “Satan” lurking everywhere and once boasted about throwing an inkpot at old Split-foot himself. (The following quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther):

Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there.

Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds.

How often have not the demons called “Nix,” drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences.

I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child which had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children.

A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him.

Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devilʼs spells.

As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil.

Satan produces all the maladies that afflict mankind for he is the prince of death.

(Who needs modern medicine or sanitation practices? What we really need, according to Luther, are more exorcists to heal “all the maladies which afflict mankind.” Yet even the “apple” of “Godʼs eye,” the ancient Hebrews, did not enjoy unparalleled good health judging by the lengthy number of illnesses mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy. And what about Luther and Calvinʼs devilishly recurring stomach and bowel problems? Dare I suggest that the early invention of Ex-lax and Pepto-Bismol might have proven more helpful to mankind than some of Luther and Calvinʼs teachings? — E.T.B.)

I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all. (Luther, Table Talk)

When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children. (Luther, Commentary on Galatians)

The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity. (Luther, Advent Sermon)

(For further quotations like those above, see Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil)

The long list of “doorways,” or entry points for demons, make daily life awkward for some Christians. Members of one North London Church have to avoid, among other things, Care Bears (because they do rituals for healing without invoking the name of Christ), the film E.T., Cabbage Patch Dolls (because they encourage people to treat toys as human), figurines of unicorns (mythological), and frogs (“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, an out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet;” Rev.16:13). One woman owned a china tea set, passed down in the family as an heirloom; she was persuaded to smash it by another church member, who noticed there was a Chinese dragon in the pattern. A woman who looked after the church childcare was found to be teaching the children relaxation exercises; she was thrown out. All these things, the church elders suppose, might bring demonic influence into the congregationʼs lives.
- Gareth J. Medway, Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism (New York University Press, 2001)

Some people believe in the Devil. So do I, in a way. He could be nothing more than one of Godʼs staff members, the one who on Judgment Day will take the fall for war, famine, tooth decay, etc. (In fact, “Armageddon” is probably Aramaic for “reshuffling the cabinet.”) He could be just random badness, the absence of goodness: evil doesnʼt have to unionize to be effective. I just do not believe that old Splitfoot has a hot line to everyoneʼs id and makes us go all steamy with evil thoughts when the fancy strikes him.
- James Lileks, “The Devil, You Say,” Fresh Lies


While exorcisms would seem to be, at worst, a harmless fad, on occasion they have had disastrous consequences. On the night of Oct. 5-6, 1974, Michael Taylor, a Yorkshireman who had recently taken up charismatic Christianity, underwent an all-night exorcism at a local church. He then went home and murdered his wife, strangled the family poodle, and was found in the street by a policeman, naked and covered in blood. The exorcists subsequently explained that although they had driven forty evil spirits out of Taylor, a few remained, including the demon of murder.

Fortunately, it is very rare for a possessed person to go crazy like this. Many other exorcisms have gone wrong, however because of an extraordinarily widespread and venerable belief that a demon can be driven out of a body by physical torture. Though few people have expressed concern at the spread of “Christian ritual abuse,” that is just what exorcisms often amount to. The victims, mostly women and children, have been forced to take part in ceremonies where they were savagely beaten, often fatally. Exorcists have gouged a womanʼs eyes out; held a three-year-old girl over a fire, onto which her favorite doll have been thrown, so that she would feel the heat of Hell, and later murdered her; placed a baby in an oven; forced a crucifix up a girlʼs nose so that it entered her brain; and forced two steel crucifixes down a womanʼs throat. Other children have met death by being strangled, being forced to drink a poisonous potion, or being hit repeatedly over the head with a concrete block.
- Gareth J. Medway, Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism (New York University Press, 2001)

A 32-year-old Catholic woman was beaten to death after she refused to enter an evangelical church in northeastern Brazil. She was passing by the Church of the Kingdom of God when two pastors ordered their followers to bring her inside to attend a ceremony. When she refused, the group held her ten-year-old daughter while the pastors dragged her by the hair and beat her in order to “exorcise the devil from her.”
- J. D. Bell, “Nuts in the News,” The American Rationalist, Nov./Dec. 1994

Excerpts From American Exorcism

By Michael W. Cuneo

Iʼve personally witnessed more than fifty exorcisms — and this isnʼt even counting the occasions where Iʼve seen dozens of people undergoing exorcism all at once…

But nothing happened — at least nothing startling, nothing that reached out and grabbed me by the throat. At the exorcisms I attended, there were no spinning heads, no levitating bodies, no voices from beyond the grave. (There was plenty of vomiting, no question about it, but nothing more impressive than what youʼd probably catch most Saturday nights out behind your local bar.) I wasnʼt counting on demonic fireworks, but neither was I counting them out. After all was said and done, more than fifty exorcisms - no fireworks, none at all.

At least none that I could make out. Occasionally I found myself in a situation where I was the odd man out, the party pooper of all party poopers. Just about everyone else on hand would claim to see something extraordinary, and theyʼd be disappointed — confused and disappointed - that I hadnʼt seen it also.

“But you must have seen the body rising. The rest of us saw it. It clearly rose two, maybe three feet off the chair. How could you not have seen it?”

“Iʼm sorry, but I didnʼt see it. I was looking as hard as I could, and I didnʼt see it.”…

So what did I see? Some of the people who showed up for exorcisms seemed deeply troubled, some mildly troubled, and some hardly troubled at all. The symptoms they complained of — the addictions and compulsions, the violent mood swings, the blurred self-identities, the disturbing visions and somatic sensations — all of this seemed to me fully explainable in social, cultural, medical, and psychological terms. There seemed no compelling need, no need whatsoever, to bring demons into the equation. Bringing them in seemed superfluous, a matter of explanatory overkill.

The same with the antics I sometimes witnessed while the exorcisms were actually taking pace, the flailing and slithering, the shrieking and moaning, the grimacing and growling — none of this, insofar as I could tell, suggested the presence of demons. It was sometimes an attempt (poignant? pathetic?) to satisfy the dramatic needs of the moment, it was sometimes an exercise in sheer self-indulgence, and it was sometimes an indication of profound personal distress. But demons? Here again, I saw no evidence of them; I saw nothing that had me itching to make a break for the door.

But I donʼt want to get too far ahead of myself. I donʼt want to make out that I know more than I really do…

…Who says…that if youʼre suffering from some diagnosable psychiatric condition, you canʼt also be demonized? Why should the first diagnosis necessarily rule out the second? If demons actually exist, who can really claim to be an expert on their preferred modes of operation?

If demons exist…More than fifty exorcisms later Iʼm still in no position to pass judgment on this. All I can say is that my fifty-plus exorcisms turned up no definitive evidence of their existence. And right now this is all I have to go on.

But hereʼs something else: Some of the people I met during my research claimed to have experience significant improvement in their personal lives as a result of undergoing exorcism. their depression lifted, their fears fled, their inner torments dissipated, their blues melted away. I have no way of knowing how extensive this improvement was, or how long-lived, or whether the people who told me about it were always telling the truth. But letʼs say, for the sake of argument, that they were telling the truth, and that their exorcisms really did have positive therapeutic impact. How can we account for this? How is it that exorcism works, unless itʼs by doing what itʼs supposed to do, namely, driving out demons?

Well, itʼs quite possible that exorcism sometimes works, but this need not have anything to do with the driving out of demons.

In psychotherapy — indeed, in virtually any medical procedure — the expectation of getting better may contribute a great deal to oneʼs actually getting better. Simply receiving treatment — any kind of treatment, but especially treatment in a supportive healing environment - is the ticket at least partway home. The medical sciences have always strongly suspected as much, that suggestion and expectancy are powerful inducement to healing, and today only the most hardened scissors-and-scalpel skeptic would argue otherwise. Thanks to recent research on the subject, we now know for certain that the placebo effect is unquestionably real and sometimes quite powerful- so powerful, in fact, that some researchers have recommended that it actually be incorporated into clinical practice. If youʼre given pharmacologically inert drugs (dummy pills) for depression, food allergies, even heart problems, chances are your condition will improve. If youʼre given a bogus operation (pretend surgery!) for arthritic pain in the knees, chances are the pain will subside or disappear altogether. The placebo might not work (it doesnʼt work for everybody), its effects might not be long-lasting, but this shouldnʼt obscure the basic point. For many people the symbolic aspects of healing — the sympathetic attention of a therapist, the ministrations of a physician, the bolstered hope and renewed optimism that derive simply from being in a healing situation — for many people intangibles such as these may go a long way toward actually improving health.

Now, if placebos can be effective when administered in the relatively antiseptic confines of a doctorʼs office or a consultation room, imagine the possibilities in the emotional swelter-box of an exorcism. Most people who seek out an exorcist are suffering from some psychological or emotional problem that theyʼre convinced has been caused by demons. They believe that demons are just as real, if not quite so obvious, as anything else in the world and that only through an exorcism will their problem be eliminated and their circumstances improved. They anticipate walking away from the exorcism with a new lease on life. The person charged with performing the exorcism and the supporting cast of friends, family members, and assistants anticipate the same thing. All parties to the exorcism have an enormous investment in the affair: They want it to work; they expect it to work, they pray for it to work. The symbolic universe they inhabit, with its shared religious meanings and discourse, demands that it work. It doesnʼt always work, of course, but often enough (if only temporarily) it seems to. And little wonder — exorcism is a ritualized placebo, a placebo writ large, one that engages its participants on levels to which more conventional therapeutic procedures could scarcely aspire.

Here again, exorcism is more in tune with the Zeitgeist [prevailing world view] than one might imagine. In recent years increasing numbers of American have started experimenting with alternative medical therapies. Unhappy with the current state of the medical establishment — its impersonality, its technology, its bureaucratic chilliness — theyʼve sought healing through the soothing, cottage-door remedies of a dizzying array of herbalists, homeopaths, acupuncturists, diet gurus — you name it. Though I wouldnʼt want to stretch the point too far, exorcism may be regarded as part of this scene, on its fringes perhaps, but part of it nonetheless. It, too, advertises a drug-free, X-ray free, incision-free approach to restored health. It promises to mend not just the body and the mind but the soul as well. Itʼs an alternative medical therapy for those who see demons, not cholesterol, not toxic particles, not environmental stress or genetic predisposition…as the major scourge of our time.

So exorcism, letʼs say, may sometimes work, though not most likely (or not very often) in precisely the way itʼs advertised. This is the positive side.

But thereʼs also a negative side. It doesnʼt always work, and in some cases itʼs downright detrimental. Some people, as weʼve seen, are bullied or badgered into undergoing exorcism. For others itʼs simply a cop-out or a means of self-glamorization. They want to avoid responsibility for their own shortcomings by blaming them on demons. Or they derive some perverse thrill from casting themselves in the role of demoniac. Itʼs difficult to imagine anything good coming from exorcisms carried out under circumstances such as these. Emotional extortion, moral evasion, vainglory - this is what exorcism can sometimes amount to.

It can sometimes amount to even worse; sometimes exorcism can actually prove fatal. Weʼve all heard the stories. In March 1995 a group of overzealous ministers connected to a tiny Pentecostal sect in the San Francisco Bay Area pummeled a woman to death while trying to evict her demons. Two years later a Korean Christian woman was stomped to death by a deacon and two missionaries operating out of a church in Glendale, California. The three men had gotten carried away trying to expel a demon they believed was lodged in the womanʼs chest. The same year, on the other side of the country, a five-year-old Bronx girl died after her mother and grandmother forced her to drink a lethal cocktail containing ammonia, vinegar, and olive oil and then bound and gagged her with duct tape. The two women claimed that they were merely trying to poison a demon that had infested the little girl several days earlier.

There are other true stores of exorcisms gone horribly wrong, none more heartrending than Charity Mirandaʼs. In 1998, on a cold Sunday afternoon in January, Charity Miranda spent her final hours undergoing exorcism at the hands of her mother, Vivian, and her sisters Serena and Elisabeth at their home in Sayville, Long Island. At one point, as fifteen-year-old Elisabeth subsequently informed the police, “Mom put her mouth to Charityʼs mouth and told her to blow the demon into her and she would try to kill it.” When this didnʼt work, their mother said, “Iʼm sorry, girls, this isnʼt Charity. Itʼs taken over her.” She then tried to destroy the demon by smothering Charity with pillows. This also didnʼt work, so she picked up a plastic bag that was lying on the living room floor. Elisabeth Miranda told the police what happened next: “Mom placed the bag over Charityʼs head. Serena was holding Charityʼs body down because it was fighting. My mom told me to leave and I went into her bedroom.” When Elisabeth, sometime later, came back into the living room, the job was finished. “Serena was pacing. Mom said donʼt be sad because that wasnʼt Charity, donʼt be attached to the body…The three of us went into momʼs room and she was saying donʼt cry because Charity left that body long before. We held hands on the bed and listened to my grandfatherʼs favorite Frank Sinatra music.”

Charity Miranda was seventeen years old and a cheerleader at Sayville High School. Her friends informed reporters that sheʼd been looking forward to starting college next fall.

Cases such as this, I should emphasize, are very much the exception. The vast majority of exorcisms are relatively innocuous affairs. They might not add up to much permanent good, but neither do they end in tragedy.

There is no evidence that Charity Mirandaʼs mother and sisters, or Charity herself, got their beliefs about demons and exorcism from the popular entertainment industry…

[But] there is [one] thing we do know for sure. Exorcism became a raging concern in the United States only when the popular entertainment industry jacked up the heat. Only with the release of The Exorcist and the publication of Hostage to the Devil and all the rest of it did fears of demonization become widespread…

One final note. In September 2000 [a quarter of a century after its original theatrical release] a newly restored directorʼs cut of The Exorcist was released to movie houses around the country. It was the cinematic event of the season, inciting yet another jag of media-obsessed demon-and-exorcism blather. For a solid month, or so it seemed, you couldnʼt pick up a newspaper, flip through a magazine, or turn on the television without coming up against it…

My central point here is that exorcism-related beliefs took hold within certain sectors of (mainly white) middle-class America only when Hollywood and its allies began spreading the message. Again, there is nothing (to my mind) surprising about this. There seems no limit to the effects of suggestibility on human thought and behavior. We know, for example, that people in general complain of being afflicted by certain physical maladies (such as repetitive-motion disorder) only when these maladies have been publicized by the media. And we also know (on an entirely different front) that people in thirteenth-century Europe claimed to be stigmatized only after popular accounts of the stigmata of St. Francis were published. Psychologists Elizabeth Loftus, Giuliana Mazzoni, and Irving Kirsch have recently performed experimental research that directly supports my thesis concerning the power of the media to induce belief in diabolical possession. For a good account of their study, see Ray Rivera, “Demons Usually in the Mind not Body of Victim, Experts Say,” Seattle Times (October 28, 2000).

For a good introduction to the vast literature on exorcism-related belief and practice throughout the world, see Felicitas D. Goodman, How About Demons? (Bloomington: Indian University Press, 1988).

- Michael W. Cuneo, American Exorcism (Random House, Inc. : New York, 2001)

If you want to study “child abuse,” you also might do well to consider Christianity as one of the culpritʼs, not merely “Satanism.”

Suffer The Children To Come Unto Me

The Rev. Mr. Munger has suddenly become a revivalist. According to the papers he is sought in every direction. His popularity seems to rest on the fact that he brutally beat a twelve-year-old girl because she did not say her prayers to suit him. Muscular Christianity is what the ignorant people want.
- Robert Ingersoll

Religious Prisons For Children

Joan Grise, 70 years old and suffering from cancer, is making a valiant effort to have her grandson freed from the clutches of a private religious prison operated in Arcadia, Louisiana by the New Bethany Baptist Church. The boyʼs father, a member of the authoritarian sect, decided that his son Matthew is “evil” and must literally have sin driven out of him. So, he turned the youngster over to the clutches of Rev. Mack W. Ford, who is notorious for his brutal style of corporal punishment.

Ford says that his treatment is designed “to reach the unwanted with the love of God,” but even the local Deputy Sheriff of Bievnville Parish, where Fordʼs compound is located, refers to the place as a “private jail.” It looks it too, surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and out of sight from observers. Sheriff Stewart told the Rocky Mountain News that Ford gets kids “down here and works the heck out of them and spanks the heck out of them and does what he wants to do.”

A 1984 report in the New York Times discussed a similar religious compound that Ford was operating in South Carolina. Along with the heavy regimen of corporal punishment and Bible-verse indoctrination, youngsters were divided into levels. At the bottom were boys described as “in bondage.” According to the newspaper reports, they were “marched into fields to work while tied together with rope,” and prohibited from even talking or laughing. Above them, the “bonded servants” enjoyed the privilege of conversation, but still were in forced labor. At the top were the “sojourners.” South Carolina authorities raided Fordʼs work camp, and the county prosecutor declared, “Most of the boys were brainwashed, just like Hitler did with kids.”

At his new compound in Louisiana “Ford repeatedly has rebuffed the attempts of state regulators to inspect the facility,” notes The News. “Even the state fire marshal is not allowed on site to assure the safety of the approximately 50 children housed there.”

A raid on his South Carolina compound produced evidence of children being struck with a “rod of correction,” and reports that children were confined in cells with ropes and handcuffs, and evidence of physical bruising.
- Conrad Goeringer, “Theistwatch Short Shots,” AANEWS (American Atheistsʼ News), Nov. 3, 1998

A police investigation into a Corpus Christi, Texas area Baptist group, the Peopleʼs Baptist Church, has uncovered allegations of child abuse.Eighteen-year-old Justin Simons told police that a church employee punched him in the chest, and punished him and another young boy by tying their wrists together and forcing them to run through the woods and even dig a 15-foot-deep pit. “When I tried to jump the pit, I fell and sprained both ankles.”

The Peopleʼs Baptist Church operates the Rebekah Home for Girls and the Anchor Home for Boys, and carries on a ministry founded by the late evangelist Lester Roloff. Practices at Roloffʼs various “homes” and other ministerial operations attracted concern in the past from media and authorities over charges involving abuse, beatings and other forms of “Bible based discipline” which the evangelist unabashedly espoused. Roloff defended his punitive child-control techniques, declaring, “Better a pink bottom than a black soul.” Then-Texas State Attorney General John Hill bluntly responded, “I donʼt mind pink bottoms. What I do object to is black, blue and bloody.”
- American Atheists, Inc. “Probe of Abuse Charges at ‘Bible Discipline’ Home Leads to Bush, Raises Questions of Faith-State Partnership” Web Posted 4/12/00

The Sisters Of Evil

Forty years ago at a Catholic orphanage in Dublin run by the “Sisters of Mercy” the children were regularly, ritually beaten with the legs of chairs; in some cases eight-year-old children were whipped with rosary beads. Infants strapped to potties were beaten if they did not give quick results. Children who misbehaved — or were “bold” — were trussed up like chickens and hung upside down on high oak doors, so that every time the door opened their heads would bump on the floor. Those who wet their beds were made to carry the stained sheet around all day. Some who threw up the foul food were force-fed and made to eat the vomit.

For hours after school, each child was obliged to turn out 60 rosary beads a day. Working with sharp wire, pliers and beads, they were not allowed to stop, even when the wire bit into their bleeding fingers.

Christine Howe was persuaded to let the sisters take care of her baby temporarily when she had to go to the hospital and her husband was working in England. Four days later her husband received a telegram telling of the childʼs death “from acute dysentery,” and also saying he had no need to return, the convent would take care of the funeral arrangements. The husband insisted on seeing the child prior to burial and discovered bandages on the childʼs legs; removing them, he found deep holes in the inside of both knees, the kind of wound that could be caused by a hot poker. The nuns admitted it had been an “accidental death” but refused to discuss the details with the parents. Reports of abuse are still coming in from other orphanages in southern Ireland.
- Peter Lennon, “The Sisters of Evil,” The Guardian Weekly, March 31, 1996
— a discussion of the documentary, Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, along with the deluge of corroborating reports that came in after the film was first aired on British TV.

The founder of a fundamentalist Christian community near Petersburg, Virginia, was convicted of manslaughter, along with the parents of a 2-year-old boy, after the boy died in 1982 as a result of two hours of paddling that she said was necessary to win a “test of wills” with the child.
- News of the Weird, “Weird Clergy”

Kids, You Canʼt Beat ʻEm, Unless Youʼre A Firm Believer In The Bible, Then Itʼs An Obligation

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
- Proverbs 19:18 (The Hebrew word for “chasten” means literally “chasten with blows.")

The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
- Proverbs 20:30 (The Hebrew word translated “stripes” means “beating.")

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol.
- Proverbs 23:13-14

As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee (with blows).
- Deuteronomy 8:5

For whom the Lord loves he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receives.
- Hebrews 12:6 (The Greek word translated “chasteneth,” also means “beating.”)

And If Beatinʼ ʻEm Donʼt Work.

Rev. William Einwechter, vice-moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches, is convinced that we as a nation are in danger of suffering the penalty of Godʼs wrath unless we begin stoning to death “disobedient children” who are in their “middle teens or older.” The reverend cited Deuteronomy 21:18-21 as his keystone verse:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

He and his fellow Free Reformed Christians should not be chided for focusing on “disobedient children,” because they feel that blasphemers, witches, adulterers, and those who seek to convert people to religions other than Free Reformed Christianity, are all candidates for a good stoning.
- E.T.B. (citing Rev. William Einwechter, “Stoning Disobedient Children,” Chalcedon Report, Jan. 1998)

Join The “Religion-Related Child Abuse” Book-Of-The-Month Club!

Just check the appropriate box, and weʼll rush you our featured selection, Philip Grevenʼs Spare the Child, that cites American Protestant authors who continue to promote violence against children. Next month weʼll send you Alice Millerʼs For Your Own Good, which traces the roots of physical violence towards children in the western world to the influence of Christianity. To illustrate her point she includes many biographical accounts, including a look at the Christian training that Adolf Hitler received during childhood. And in the months ahead you can look forward to receiving Annie Laurie Gaylorʼs Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children that documents cases of child abuse by the clergy. And Mary Raftery and Eoin OʼSullivanʼs Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Irelandʼs Industrial Schools, a story of incredible cruelties perpetrated by minions of state and church. And James A. Haughtʼs Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, and, Holy Hatred: Religious Conflicts of the ʻ90s, which include some frightful accounts of religion-related child abuse. Donʼt delay! Sign up today!
- E.T.B.

Devout Christian parents contribute to the deaths of their children whenever they waive medical assistance for their child and instead rely on prayer in times of severe illness; or whenever they raise a child to help them evangelize a country filled with people violently hostile to their beliefs. Devout Christian parents have even pummeled their own infants or children to death in “tests of will” or while trying to “drive out a spirit of disobedience” or “exorcise a demon” from them. Such parents would sooner see their child suffer and risk death than risk “eternal hellfire.” Which brings me to some even more bizarre cases of child abuse:

A small Danish (Protestant) sect went around killing as many newly baptized infants as they could discover, thereby preserving them from sin, from the miseries of this life, and from hell, and sending them infallibly to heaven. In the light of their beliefs they were acting rationally, but they did not secure Voltaireʼs approval: “These charitable persons omitted to consider that most fathers and mothers are sufficiently worldly to prefer having their sons and daughters with them than to see them slaughtered as a passport to Paradise.”
- A. J. Ayer, Voltaire

Some (Catholic) Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants then immediately dash their brains out; by this means they secured that those infants went to heaven.
- Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?

One might compare the Inquisitionʼs history of attempting to “save” a personʼs soul via torture and confession followed by execution. Moreover, according to the authoritative word of towering Catholic theologians like Saint Augustine, unbaptized infants remained under the power of the Devil:

Infants, When Unbaptized, are in the Power of the Devil. The Christian faith unfalteringly declares that they who are cleansed in the laver of regeneration (i.e., the baptismal font) are redeemed from the power of the devil, and that those who have not yet been redeemed by such regeneration are still captive in the power of the devil, even if they be infant children of the redeemed from the power of the devil. Infants are delivered when they are baptized; and whosoever denies this, is convicted by the truth of the Churchʼs very sacraments, which no heretical novelty in the Church of Christ is permitted to destroy or change, so long as the Divine Head rules and helps the entire body which He owns — small as well as great. It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devilʼs power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord.
- Saint Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1, Chapter 22

Some Catholic saints even experienced “spiritual visions” that depicted little children suffering in hell. Saint Fulgentius in the sixth century taught that “little children who have begun to live in their motherʼs womb and have there died, or who, having just been born, have passed away from the world without the sacrament of holy baptism must be punished by the eternal torture of undying fire.”

Later, the church settled on a more merciful destination for unbaptized infants, “Limbo,” which was kind of like “Hell Lite.” But recently the Catholic Church has even abolished “Limbo,” and stated that unbaptized infants who die go directly to heaven. (Ironically, thatʼs the “heretical novelty” that Saint Augustine expelled so much hot air arguing against!)

Even as late as 1890, at least one approved Catholic work continued to depict young children suffering in hell, Rev. J. Furnissʼs, Tracts for Spiritual Reading, designed for First Communions, Retreats, Missions, etc. (New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1890). The Reverend wrote, “See the little child in this red hot oven. Hear the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell — despair, desperate and horrible.”
- E.T.B.

My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, “I donʼt want to go to Hell, I donʼt want to go to Hell,” and sheʼd be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know that I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. Thatʼs why sheʼs an obedient child.
- Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, “The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North Carolina, a Boy Preacherʼs Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community,” Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989

WARNING: Geoffrey Dahmer had Fundamentalist Christian parents!
- “Tagline”
And blasphemous “shock rock” star, Marilyn Manson, was forced to attend a fundamentalist Christian school in his youth.
- E.T.B.

Some devout parents would sooner risk the loss of their childʼs love in order to retain what they imagine to be “Godʼs.” For instance, a televised report (on Dateline or 20/20) in 1996 told how some “Christian counseling centers” boasted in their brochures they could “treat homosexuality.” Children and adolescents who had been “treated” at such “counseling centers” told reporters they had been locked up, held down, and screamed at to “induce shame” and to “teach them how they should feel about what they were doing to their parents and God.” Worse forms of abuse also took place. Some children and teenagers were detained for weeks, months, even years. At least one young girl sued her parents after she escaped from the “counseling center.”
- E.T.B.

Like all creeds that claim the total allegiance of the individual — like communism, for example, in our own day — early Christianity was a powerful divisive force. Every town and every house, says Eusebius, is divided by a civil war waged between Christians and idolaters. Justin tells of a Christian wife who was denounced by her pagan husband; Tertullian speaks of cases where wives have been repudiated or sons disinherited for turning Christian; in Perpetuaʼs account of her relations with her father we see how a family could be torn asunder by religious differences. For such situations the blame was naturally laid on the Christian missionaries. Celsus has an illuminating passage, too long to quote, about Christians who get hold of pagan children, encourage them to disobey their fathers and schoolmasters, and lure them into Christian coventicles; often they work on the womenfolk as well. Origen does not deny that this happens; and Jerome later paints an equally unfavorable picture of fanatical monks who worm themselves into the homes of the aristocracy and exploit the guilt-feelings of women. Christianity, like communism, was a domestic trouble- maker.
- E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian In An Age of Anxiety (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1970), p. 115-116.

To the contention by [the pagan philosopher] Celsus that Christians took children away from their parents…Origin [the Christian apologist] could only respond that Christians did not lure children away from better things or incite them to worse things. This was a lame argument, one that could hardly have appeased a pagan who cherished family life and worked hard to give his children a good education and a place in society. In this case, Origenʼs near admission of guilt may only have confirmed many suspicions held by pagans that Christianity was by and large a disruptive force.
- Stephen Benko, Pagan Rome and the Early Christians (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1984), p. 157.

Abraham And Isaac

Could it be that the Biblical story in Genesis, chapter 22, of Abrahamʼs near-sacrifice of his son Isaac has had negative connotations for society at large? Why is the willingness to sacrificially murder (rather than passionately protect and preserve) a child the quintessential model of faith for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the modern secular cultures these religions undergird? What allows fathers to assume that children are theirs to sacrifice in the first place?

Why do the very societies that embrace the Biblical model of child murder as a paradigm of faith also tolerate children living in abject poverty throughout the world; children suffering untold physical, emotional and sexual violence; and children being sent off by the hundreds of thousands “to fight old menʼs battles” in war after war?

Delaneyʼs book provides a compelling counter-argument to fundamentalist, right-wing claims, that it is not the decline of patriarchal family values, but rather their pervasiveness, that is and has been so morally devastating.
— Cynthia M. Baker, book review in Bible Review (April 2003) of Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth by Carol Delaney (Princeton Univ. Press. 1998)

In 1990 in California, a devout Christian man took his youngest child to a local park and slit her throat as a sacrificial offering because “God told him to do it.”
— Cynthia M. Baker, book review in Bible Review (April 2003) of Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth by Carol Delaney (Princeton Univ. Press. 1998)

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