The belief that demons exist is as old as religion itself, but at the end of last year it was reported that exorcisms are back in a big way. In 2017, the Catholic rite of exorcism was translated into English for the first time since being standardised in the early 17th century, and in May of this year the Vatican held a dedicated “exorcist training convention” in Rome following a sharp rise in “reports of demonic possession around the world”.
Looking into what’s caused this current “spike” throws up complex answers. What’s evident is
that it isn’t just a Catholic concern, as a 2017 report by faith-focused think-tank Theos made clear. The “Christianity and Mental Health” paper points to Pentecostalism – the Protestant renewal movement with an emphasis on direct personal connections to God – “[which is mainly] driven by immigrant communities and churches [which are] very open about their exorcism services”.
The rise of Pentecostalism in the UK wasn’t an overnight occurrence, though it grew mainly in the margins, in urban working class immigrant communities. In a 2006 report, Pentecostalism was listed as the fastest growing group of Christians in the country, with under 1 million adherents, though some believe that number to be much larger. In the USA, that figure stands at 20 million, with over 10 percent of all Christians worldwide thought to identify as Pentecostalist.
For millions of the devout – Pentecostalists, but also many others – evil is not a metaphor, but an active physical presence to be fought accordingly. As a recent piece in The Atlantic outlines, roughly half of Americans believe demonic possession is real, with over 70 percent believing in the devil…
Continue reading at: Do People Really Get Exorcisms?