• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Devil in the Detail

A report from the London Evening Standard:

Channel 4 has provoked outrage by showing the first exorcism ritual on British TV.

Except it’s not. I’ve seen two over the past decade or so, although I’m afraid I can’t recall the exact details. The first (I’m sure was in 1991) was an American documentary about a church in Oklahoma where the pastor had persuaded his congregation that most of them had been abused as children as part of a Satanic conspiracy: I definitely remember a meek-looking middle-aged lady swearing her head off while being rebuked by said pastor. The second (probably 1992) was a “fly on the wall” profile of a small band of British Charismatic Christians, and featured a guy being held down at a table as he shouted out “we’re staying in him”. Plus there was a BBC piece just a couple of years back that featured a house being exorcised of a ghost (and, apparently, exorcisms on a British Christian satellite channel which led to a rebuke from broadcasting authorities in 1998).

However, this one was slightly different:

Channel 4 broadcast the programme “as live” hours after it had taken place in front of a panel of experts at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. Channel 4 said it was a “scientific experiment”. It was broadcast at 11.05 last night.

Unfortunately, now being based in Japan I wasn’t able actually to see the “experiment”. However, a reviewer noted:

Doctor [Jonathan] Bird, who was monitoring the EEG machine, revealed that some small tremor had been recorded in Colin’s brain just at the moment when Satan’s henchman did a runner, but that it was not significant enough to constitute a definite exorcism or similar flight of the evil one.

So who was the exorcist? None other than Trevor Newport, who has been featured on this blog before. Newport is a bit of an exorcist pundit, having been used several times in the past by the BBC (most recently, as a preview to the C4 programme, here). He is also, somewhat unlike Father Merrin of The Exorcist, a Word of Faith “Prosperity Gospel” Charismatic with links to Kenneth Copeland (A chap called Mark who claims to have been involved with Newport’s church left a rather negative comment about him on my original entry).

UPDATE: See today.

4 Responses

  1. Hi, it’s Mark again. Just to say that by pure chance I saw the Channel 4 programme the other night. I was pleased that one of the guests, a professor from LSE if I remember correctly, was spot on. He commented that the exorcism wasn’t so much to get demons to leave as to get people to join – a recruitment advert for Newport’s cult. The word ‘cult’ was used by the professor himself, and my wife and I felt such a relief to see this man unmasked publicly at last. I know the many others who have escaped the group will feel exactly the same.

  2. Sorry to double post, but it’s just occurred to me that people may be led to believe that Mr Newport is an Elim minister. He was ordained as one as a young man, but after only a few years was forced to leave over a disciplinary matter. He now mainly calls himself ‘apostle’ but sometimes ‘reverend’ as he feels the occasion demands. His group is independent and he answers to no higher authority.

  3. Thanks, very interesting.

  4. […] Bartholomew There seems to be some sort of pool of media-exorcists that British hacks call on. Yesterday I covered Trevor Newport’s appearance on Channel 4; today The Observer profiles William Lendrum, […]

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