by Max Brantley
... the sad fact of the matter is that there are many pockets of evangelical Christianity that believe that bad or sinful behavior is caused by demons literally possessing or oppressing people which therefore need to be exorcised. There’s not a lot of information on how widespread this belief is, though it does seem to be fringe. The biggest proponent of it in evangelical circles is a man named Bob Larson, who can be seen, with his daughter and her “teen exorcist” friends, in this Vice video I posted at Slate in 2013. Larson is a classic charlatan—he even charges $295 for a demon exorcism via Skype—but it works because a lot of people really want to believe that destructive behavior is supernatural and can be done away with by praying. In 2001, Fordham sociologist Michael Cuneo even traveled the country and witnessed at least 50 exorcisms, most in evangelical circles, across the country, and published his findings in American Exorcism.
This belief has been endorsed from on high in fundamentalist circles. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club is forever warning viewers about the dangers of demonic possession and witchcraft. Some recent greatest hits include blaming homosexuality on demonic possession, warning that Dungeons & Dragons will cause demonic possession, and that even buying used clothes could bring demons into your life. Also, don’t put your sonogram pictures up on Facebook, because witches will curse your child.