The threat of demon possession is something that sounds both exceptionally horrifying and utterly ridiculous.
DEMONOLOGY: A STUDY IN EVIL, A SERIES MADE POSSIBLE BY DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Growing up around any religion, the threat of demon possession is something that sounds both exceptionally horrifying and utterly ridiculous.The Exorcist, The Rite, Paranormal Activity, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the list continues, are all paranormal movies that heighten the fear and skepticism towards an actual demon possession scenario. However, this summer’s highly anticipated movie, Deliver Us From Evil, may just remind viewers of a threat that aligns with the spiritual, mystical, and paranormal.
The movie is based on the real-life story and autobiography of retired New York City Sergeant and demonologist, Ralph Sarchie. Over his 16-career, Ralph has made over 300 arrests, earned seven service awards, and has performed over 20 exorcisms. But is this a problem that has always existed, or could we possibly be experiencing an exorcism revival?
The Roman Catholic Church is arguably the largest advocate for demonic awareness, with priests regularly seated in the role of demon experts in and out of the movies. In his book, Beware the Night, Sarchie quotes Father James LeBar, exorcist for the Archdiocese of New York, who reports that from 1990 to 2010 the numbers of exorcisms performed jumped from zero to 300.
A 300% percent increase is a pretty significant spike, but LeBar’sconcerns are not completely unsupported. There has been a flux in exorcist staffing and training within the Catholic Church. An article from The Telegraph reveals that the bishop of Naples appointed three new exorcists a few years ago, with diocese and bishops from Milan, Naples, and Sardinia following a similar lead—Milan nominated seven new exorcists at the beginning of this year.
Yet Catholics are not the only religious group that is plagued by threats posed by demons. According to a Pew study conducted in 2007, 68% of Americans believe that demons are active in the world. Pastor Raul Cordero, a 24-year practicing minister of the Pentecostal denomination and witness of multiple exorcisms, is a part of this group. “The devil has always been a threat, but it is a result of cultural exchange through technology that we are seeing a new interest in the topic and rite of exorcism. People are realizing through open channels of communication that this a very real and scary phenomenon,” Coredo says. “Not to mention, the increasing amount of films about exorcisms that introduce the practice to non-believers.”
Despite rising numbers in secular beliefs, the interest in the practice of exorcism is on the rise. Whether demon possession, or the existence of demonic presences altogether, is the culprit behind the increasing interest remains a matter of suspect.