Satanic Viagra

Reports on religion become stranger by the day. A recent report in the Telegraph made me question if editors had given up on journalists altogether. How else would the following subhead have slipped into publication:

‘Pope Francis’ effect credited with rising demand for exorcisms around the world.

Excuse me? Credited? That’s like saying Jihadists are to be credited for 9/11! The whole article reads like an episode from The Twilight Zone:

States Father Cesare Truqui, chief Exorcist in Chur, Switzerland:

“Pope Francis talks about the Devil all the time and has certainly raised awareness about exorcism. But all Latin Americans have this sensibility – for them, the existence of the Devil is part of their faith.”

Truqui uses a rather broad brush here, as I’m sure that not all Latin Americans are as batshit crazy as this idiot. But he does point to a real problem: in order to shore up their dwindling numbers, the catholic church is ratcheting up a fictitious threat to scare people into staying. They obviously don’t give a damn that full-on bronze-age superstition will scare borderline psychopaths into hurting or killing others – the end justifies the menace, so to speak. After all, it is quite damning (ha, ha) evidence that satanic possession is a phenomenon that only afflicts Christians.

But what bewilders me most is how priests can state the most outrageous stupidities without reporters calling them on it. In the interview, Chief Exorcist Truqui states that

I once treated […] a man who was obsessed with masturbating – he did it every day, many times

Seriously? So when you are able to jerk off multiple times a day you are now possessed by the Devil? Hey, I wish I could do that. Exorcise your libido? Did someone perhaps confuse that word with exercise and called the wrong professional? Only the uptight, sexually dysfunctional church could find something wrong with that. Listen, you idiots, don’t you know that Pfizer has a major product line to give clients what you think is the Devil’s work? Are you really that retarded?  

It gets worse. Claiming he can discern the difference between medically ill people and those truly possessed by the Devil, exorcist Truqui enthuses

There are some classic signs – people who speak in ancient tongues, for instance. Other people have supernatural strength when they are in a state of possession[…]. In some cases, people are able to levitate.

Note that Truquil carefully avoids an outright lie here – he doesn’t say that he’s ever witnessed such an event, just what would be indicative of a possesion. No reliable evidence of levitation, spontaneous language abilities, or truly superhuman strength has ever been recoded, and Truquil knows that. He just spouts these idiocies for the simple minded believers to sell his snake oil.

It’s not as if he doesn’t know it:

“A considerable number of the cases referred to us are in fact psychiatric cases”

Another narrowly avoided lie: they all are.

Bible Libel

Forget the Grisons Exorcists, they are wimps. It seems that Nigeria has the one true Van Helsing, in the name of born-again Christian Pastor Helen Ukpabio. Now, Ukpabio is really into witchcraft and stuff. She can diagnose potential baby witches from more than a mile away (symptoms: they get sick, cry, and scream at night – all very unusual characteristics for children), has made a fortune with her anti-witchcraft, and has just sued BHA for a humble half a billion pounds. Yeah, with a ‘b’.

What for?

Because BHA had the insolence to write that Ukpabio attributes the above symptoms to satanic possession – when clearly they are signs of vampiric possession. This of course ruins her reputation and livelihood, hence the half a billion pounds of damages.

Well, I guess when your livelihood includes the budged of a small nation, it’s easy to lose track of details. Like, for instance, reality. Not that anyone who makes their living by endangering children (what do you think happens to a child in Nigeria – where superstition is rampant – when it is diagnosed with a demon?) can be expected to have trace elements of sanity or decency.

Boy, and I thought Nigerian Scams were bad. If it weren’t such a gross waste of resources, I’d have loved to see this go to trial in the UK. British humor and a frivolous lawsuit? Hand, glove.

Devil’s Due

The Roman Catholic Church in Grisons allegedly employs eleven professional exorcists, even though that Swiss Canton has a population of less than 200’000. Now, the Swiss are renown for their perfectionism, but that number is a bit extreme. By comparison, London would have to employ 450 exorcists to provide the same level of service. As far as I know, they don’t have any (at least not since ‘Reverend’ Andrew Arbuthnott was defrocked after a sexual assault disguised as ‘exorcism’). Is London in danger of falling to the Devil soon, or is Satan merely fond of the Alps? Or is perhaps a much more mundane reason at the bottom of this?

Christoph Casetti, chief exorcists in Chur, states that demand for his services is high (if not high-as-a-kite). One of the reasons is that in 1976 german priests managed to kill their victim during an exorcism. This alerted the german authorities to this medieval insanity, and promptly banned all exorcisms.

To the swiss Catholic Church, being what it is, this was a financial windfall: it allowed them to grow their offices in Grisons to eleven Exorcists after picking up customers from Germany. So what drives their business?

According to Gabriele Amort, president of the international association of exorcists (no kidding, they really do exist), the root cause for the increased sway the Devil has over our pathetic lives are Rock Music (of course), reading Harry Potter (of course), and Yoga.

Wait. Yoga?

I’m constantly amazed by these priests’ ability to keep a straight face while telling outlandish stories to grow their business.

Damn are they good!

Botched reporting

In tragic news two children died and two were gravely injured when a believer, driven insane by her religion, performed a religious ritual. Sadly, even the reporting is quite insane:

A 28-year-old mother killed two of her children and severely injured her two others during a botched exorcism attempt

Use of the word ‘botched’ suggests that there is a right way to perform an exorcism. There isn’t. Here’s a fact: if you think you need to perform an exorcism on someone, you should be locked up at the funny farm.