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

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Devil in the Detail Part Two

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, the Church of Ireland exorcist who was previously featured alongside Newport on the BBC World Service (both were blogged here). But according to this new report, Lendrum does not think much of his Charismatic competitor (who is incorrectly described as an “Anglican clergyman” by The Observer):

Lendrum was unimpressed by Channel 4’s attempt to film the live exorcism, which lasted less than five minutes and was carried out on an ex-drug addict…’My view watching that programme was that the person involved was disturbed by external forces, that the process was more an act of deliverance than an exorcism. It seemed to be more about the paranormal than a man possessed.’

OK…so what’s Lendrum’s own bag?

Just a couple of hours before Channel 4 screened what was supposedly the first live exorcism last Thursday night, Lendrum was curing a 10-year-old boy who had dabbled in the black arts of the Ouija board…’The boy, who comes from County Derry, was sent to me a couple of months ago on the recommendation of a psychiatrist,’ he said. ‘ He had found a Ouija board by a river, took it home and started playing with it. A few weeks later he said he could hear voices, specifically that a man called Tyrannus was talking to him.

Meanwhile, Newsnight has just reported on the exorcism of children among African immigrants living in London. In some African churches, the practice has led to children being physically abused; the belief that a child can be possessed may have also contributed to the murder of Victoria Climbie, Newsnight argued. The report was quite informative, although it saw exorcism and deliverance in African churches purely in terms of African traditions: in fact, C. Peter Wagner, Bill Subritzky, Derek Prince and other Western “deliverance” practitioners are known in Africa and ought to be given their due.

So should we also be concerned about Lendrum and others like him exorcising children? Or does being white and belonging to a mainstream denomination put all worries to rest? No opinion from the Observer, which, alas, also failed to quiz Lendrum on his conspiracy theory about the satanic “Ulster Assassination Cult”.

(Newsnight link via The Revealer)

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