Demons and Satanic Ritual Abuse: Some Posthumous Notes on Bill Subritzky

At the website of Moriel Ministries, Jacob Prasch casts a sour eye over the legacy of New Zealand-based international evangelist Bill Subritzky, who died at the end of last year:

We all have horror stories. I recall a young Kiwi believer named Colin who after being saved for only 7 weeks was taken by a friend to a Subritzky meeting in Palmerston North. Subritzky claimed a ‘word of knowledge’ that Colin’s father was a homosexual pedophile who molested him as a baby and that Subritzky needed to cast 7 demons out of Colin. In fact, when Colin was a baby his dad was in a body cast physically and sexually dysfunctional.

Prasch and Moriel represent an austere form of Christian conservatism that rejects the “signs and wonders” associated with neo-Pentecostalism. However, the story is plausible: in 1985 Subritzky published a book called Demons Defeated, which abounds with stories of how God had given him supernatural insight into people’s backgrounds. Some of these “words of knowledge” were voyeuristic and prurient:

Other forms of sexual perversion are demonic. For example, there are various forms of oral sex. I have frequently been approached by women who have tremendous problems, and I have seen this spirit upon them. I have seen a vision of the male sexual organ in front of their mouth. I have asked them whether they have participated in this activity. They have confessed…

Subritzky also promoted the idea of the discovery of Satanic Ritual Abuse through recovered memory:

We quite frequently find that as a result of satanic ritual abuse or severe prolonged trauma in childhood or severe shock, that various personalities can manifest within the one person…The traumatised person retreats into their shell and these other personalities, which in my view are demons, begin to manifest…

One of the most common of these demons is the spirit of memories. As ministry takes place, memories which have been suppressed by this spirit come back to the person’s recollection.

Subritzky’s ministry was endorsed by Derek Prince, an influential British evangelist whose own ministry emphasised the supernatural and the need to be aware of demonic forces. Subritzky’s memoir, The Cutting Edge, shows him in a number of international settings, including Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Detroit (with the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International), Hungary, and Tonga. Subritzky was especially close to Tonga’s leaders, and King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV wrote a foreword for the book.

When not casting out demons, Subritzky pursued his aims by more worldly means: he was one of the founders of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, a Christian Right lobby group. As well as his evangelising work, he was the senior partner in a law firm and a successful property developer.

In his later years, Subritzky endorsed the ministry of T.B. Joshua, a particularly controversial Nigerian evangelist dismissed by Prasch as a “pseudo Christian witchdoctor”. As I have noted previously, Joshua makes extravagant claims to supernatural powers of prophecy in relation to global and African news events. In most cases, Joshua’s supposed power is demonstrated through heavily-edited videos promoted after particular incidents; T.B. Joshua Watch shows that deceptive editing methods are employed. Many evangelical figures shun association with Joshua, and Joshua has heavily promoted Subritzky’s enthusiasm.

Subritzky in the UK

Subritzky also visited the UK, and @SAFFtweets suggests that the suicide of Caroline Marchant – a troubled young woman who had been persuaded that she had been an SRA victim, along lines inspired by Lauren Stratford’s bogus memoir (discussed here) – directly followed her attendance at an event in which Subritzky was a main speaker.

Marchant took a fatal overdose on 16 Februrary 1990 (although she lingered on for more than two weeks afterwards) while staying at the home of Reverend Kevin Logan, author of an evangelical Christian paperback called Paganism and the Occult. In the same month, Subritzky was a speaker at an event in Brighton called “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”, although I haven’t been able to confirm the exact date. For some reason, SAFF mistakenly gives a 1989 date and Southend as the location.

The event was organised by Ellel Grange, a centre for the “deliverance ministry”, and held at the Brighton Centre. The journalist Andrew Brown was in attendance, and he recalled the event in 2010, when there was a controversy over a Conservative Party election candidate who had reportedly previously performed an exorcism on a gay man. In his assessment:

The New Frontiers church to which Philippa Stroud belongs and where her husband is a major star is the fruit standard of fruit loopiness among English evangelical Christians. It was at a New Frontiers church in Brighton that I once went to hear the New Zealand evangelist Bill Surbritzky [sic], a man who believes that not merely homosexuality but smoking and swearing are caused by demonic infestation.

Following Subritzky’s death, Andrew recalled further on Twitter that

I shared a taxi through Brighton with Surbritzky once. All I could think of was his theory that there are demons of nicotine. I wanted a cigarette very badly [1, 2]

2 Responses

  1. “SAFF mistakenly gives a 1989 date and Southend as the location.”

    You might have clarified this with us directly rather than give the false impression on your blog that our research was in some way flawed.

    The mention of 1989 and Southend was taken from a SAFF bulletin sheet in early 1990 whilst the Marchant tragedy was unfolding and insider information was difficult to obtain.

    Here is a link to the extract from that newsletter which Barthsnotes appears to quote from:

    http://saff.nfshost.com/billsubritzky1.jpg

    Later on, as inside information began to seep through, this was corrected because our research revealed that the jamboree had in fact been held on 12-15th February in Brighton.

    In the March 1992 SAFF submission to the ITC on draft rules on TV sponsorship for religious bodies, we made mention of the fact that the FGBFI financed and co-ordinated harmful missionary activity in the U.K. This is a link to the extract published recently on twitter:

    http://saff.nfshost.com/billsubritzky2.jpg

    We got the date wrong initially because we did not realise how quickly poor Caroline Marchant ‘s fate had been sealed. She was taken to the February 1990 Battle Belongs to the Lord Jamboree which Bill Subritzky and the coterie of SRA satan hunters attached to Ellel Grange had attended, and she was brought back with them to Kevin Logan’s vicarage immediately after the jamboree ended. On THE MORNING AFTER she got to Great Harwood, Lancs she committed suicide, though, as you point out, it took a fortnight for the poor girl to die from renal failure.

    The effect of the multiple exorcisms undertaken during that jamboree must have had an effect on the mental state of Caroline.

    In an Ellel Grange pamphlet advertising for sale Audio and Video ‘teaching’ cassettes of ‘The Battle Belongs to the Lord’ (which included lectures by Bill Subritzky at the jamboree) these evil people wrote:

    “The speakers addressed major issues on aspects of Ministering in the Power of the Holy Spirit. The testimonies from those who went to Brighton have proved a remarkable witness to the power of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit that hallmarked this event. One correspondent summed it up as ‘the most significant teaching conference I have ever been to’ .

    This was of course written AFTER Caroline Marchant had committed suicide. The cynical nature of the fundamentalist mind was never so apparent.

    Ellel Grange was crucially involved in several of the early cases of Satanic Panic in the 1990s.

    Their counselling course ‘Ministering To the Sexually Abused’ includes two sections MSA7 and MSA8 on The Demonisation of Man and Ritualistic Sexual Abuse: The Satanic Belief System:

    Ellel grange was a key player in the foisting of the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse onto the fundamentalist circuit in the U.K. and despite our efforts they were only taken to task once by the British Press.

    The second ‘Battle Belongs to the Lord’ occurred in the Brighton Centre 10-13 June 1991 and Subritzky attended again to hallelujah a packed audience of lost-souls and evangelists seeking victims of SRA. Along with a back-up programme of one day training courses for satan hunters on Ministering to the Sexually Abused in London, Sheffield, Preston, and Glasgow, including ‘Recognising Symptoms of the Demonic Dimension’.

    The evil people who have perpetrated the Sexual Abuse scares of the 21st century for their own sectarian purposes are legion. There are literally millions of them actively creating a false reality around claims of sexual abuse. It behoves those comparitively few free-thinkers who strive to break their do-gooder disguise to work together and help each other rather than casually undermine each other.

    If you or anyone reading this, ever needs any further clarification on any SAFF pronouncement or publication all you need do is email me, Tony Rhodes at saff@uk2.net and we will do our best to help the cause of Truth.

    Tony Rhodes, Director, The S.A.F.F.
    http://saff.nfshost.com

    • P.S.

      ADDENDUM

      The full story of Caroline Marchant’s manipulation by the fundie machine was exposed in Dave Hebditch and Nick Annings’ four page special in The Independent on Sunday 30th December 1990.

      No more detailed revelation of her story has ever been published. The British Media, occupied with their fallacious claims about SRA largely ignored it.

      The Daily Mirror to their unending shame, ran with the claims made by the fundamentalists involved, that Caroline had killed herself in fear of Satanists. In fact Hebditch and Anning’s article shows this to be a complete fabrication and that Caroline was mentally disturbed and making up SRA lies to pacify the fundies she was living with. That article can be read in its entirety on our website here:

      http://saff.nfshost.com/marchant.htm

      Tony Rhodes
      Director
      SAFF

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