Mercy Ministries exorcism books leaked

Controversial ministry treated anorexia with exorcism

Handbooks allegedly used to perform exorcisms on sick girls at the controversial Mercy Ministries residences in Sydney and on the Sunshine Coast have been leaked to LIVENEWS.com.au.

Mercy Ministries, which is bankrolled by the Pentecostal Hillsong Church, has previously denied performing exorcisms on residents.

The documents, obtained clandestinely by a girl who “escaped” the group’s clutches, shows counsellors how to rid ‘demons’ from girls struggling with anorexia, depression and drug addiction.

Mercy Survivors
Mercy Survivors is a support group for women who have survived placement in the Mercy Ministries program run world wide.

Mercy Ministries’ activities hit the headlines in March this year when former residents claimed they were subjected to exorcisms, were cut off from friends and family and had to sign over their Centrelink payments to the group.

Some of the young women say they had little or no access to the promised psychologists and other mental health professionals but were instead counselled by bible studies students whose solution to all problems was prayer.

Earlier this year the then head of Mercy Ministries, Peter Irvine, said exorcisms were not practised at the residences. Mercy Ministries has been forced to shut their Sunshine Coast residence.

“There’s no exorcism, no driving out of spirits it’s not how the program works,” he told Today Tonight’s Marguerite McKinnon earlier this year.

But the handbooks tell a different story and corroborate accounts given to LIVENEWS.com.au by former residents of Mercy Ministries.

In the handbook, under a section entitled ‘Identifying Additional Demons’ those practising the exorcism are advised to ask the demon’s name, but not for any more details.

“They sometimes talk: they may threaten the person or you. They have been know to say, ‘I am going to kill you,’ and other unsavoury phrases. Command them to be quiet in the Name of Jesus,” the book advises.

Later, the book, Restoring The Foundations, published by an American Christian group, warns those exorcising demons to be firm.

“The minister’s attitude is one of commanding,” it reads.

“He needs to be firm and prepared to press in. He does not need to be loud. (Demons are not deaf.) The ministers’ commanding attitude resembles that of a person speaking to a little “yappy” dog commanding him to go home and stop barking.

“We also want the ministry receiver to set his will to resist and then command the particular demon or grouping of demons to leave him, in Jesus’ name. This is repeated until the demons are gone.”

Later in the book, those performing the exorcism are given more complex techniques in a subheading called ‘What to do With Obstinate Demons’.

Later a list of ‘Scriptures that Demons Hate’ is provided.

“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you,” is one such passage singled out.

The emergence of the exorcism handbook lends weight to other claims made by girls who went through the Mercy Ministries program.

Megan Smith (not her real name), who spoke to LIVENEWS.com.au earlier this year, said her panic attacks only got worse.
[…]

Finally, she was subjected to an exorcism.

“The counsellor gave me a list of different demons – demon of anger, demon of unforgiveness, demon of pride, there were lots of them and I was told to go away and circle the demons I had in me or around me,” said Smith.

“I was really scared… they cast demons out of me, one by one, and they became quite excited and animated during the process, and spoke in tongues.
[…]

“Even after the exorcism, when I had the next anxiety attack, I was told that they had already cast the demons out, so therefore I was obviously either faking it, or I had chosen to let the demons come back, in which case I was not serious about getting better.

“They kept telling us that the world can’t help us, professionals with all their ‘worldly qualifications’ can’t help us, only Mercy could because only they have God’s power.

“So when I was kicked out for being ‘demonic, unable to be helped, not worth a place at Mercy’ and because I had taken too long to pray to become a Christian… it left me worse than I had ever been before in my life.

“They told me I would never get better now because I had blown my chance. I started cutting my arms and wrists more than ever, with their voices echoing in my mind as I did it.”
[…]

– Source: Mercy Ministries exorcism books leaked, Tim Brunero, LiveNews (Australia), Nov. 26, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Hillsong: Exorcism in the suburbs

The Hillsong backed group seemed prepared to cop the charge that they forced sick girls in their Mercy Ministries residential program to sign over their Centrelink payments.

They seemed comfortable admitting that while they advertised girls would have access to psychiatrists and other health professionals, in fact, the only treatment they were really offered was housework and bible study.

But they didn’t want to own up to the medieval practice of exorcisms.

And you can’t blame them. Who would want to admit they had been trying to cure anorexia, drug addiction and other problems with such hocus-pocus?

They’d already lost high-profile sponsors like Rebel Sport, Bunnings and LG after news of their activities broke earlier this year.

But the girls I spoke to earlier this year when the scandal hit the headlines were unequivocal – they had been exorcised.
[…]

It sounds unbelievable that this group funded by a large influential church could be so irresponsible to think they could cure serious illness with prayer.

It’s one thing to con your flock to tithe a chunk of their income to the church, to pass off concerts as worship, to be browbeaten by charismatic preachers like Pastor Brian Houston, and to finish each service by laying hands of the sick and speaking in tongues.

It’s another to endanger vulnerable young women.

You might find it hard to believe.

But having grown up in the Hills district when Hillsong was just getting its patter down you can be assured this church is as crazy as it sounds.

Having been to one of their ‘HSC Hype’ study camps for Year 12 students, where they tried to brow-beat kids into becoming born again and stories about exorcism were de rigour – I have no doubts these stories are quite true.

Knowing as I do that Brian Houston’s first book was the decidedly un-Christian tome You Need More Money I find it easy to believe the claims of the many girls I have spoken to.

I believe former residents, who refer to themselves as “Mercy survivors”, when they say the group has recently attempted to remove their critical clips from YouTube and has attempted to remove references on Wikipedia to the recent controversy.
[…]

– Source: Hillsong: Exorcism in the suburbs, Tim Brunero, LiveNews (Australia), Nov. 26, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

How to cure anorexia with exorcisms

How to cure anorexia with exorcisms

Exorcisms to cure mental illness and drug addiction, locking vulnerable people away from friends and family, prayer as a solution to all problems – sounds like psych ward from last century. But actually it’s just the ‘Mercy Way’.

The once mighty ‘Mercy Ministries’, a secretive outfit that purports to treat young women with mental illness, is now in serious trouble.

Bankrolled by controversial Pentecostal group the ‘Hillsong Church’ and Hillsong-aligned Gloria Jean’s coffees the group has been the subject of a number of complaints to authorities. They’ve already closed one of their two facilities.

Women who’ve been through its programs say the main ‘treatment’ they were prescribed were exorcisms and prayer study, supervised by bible studies students. That’s whether they were dealing with anorexia, anxiety disorders or substance abuse.

And all the time being kept virtually as prisoners – cut off from the outside world with no TV or newspapers, with severely restricted access to friends and family and made to even ask permission to go to the toilet.

Nowhere was the promised phalanx of mental health professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and dieticians. Just bible studies students whose answer to all questions was more prayer.

Three former residents told LIVENEWS.com.au they were left in a worse state after going to stay at Mercy Ministries – which still operates in a house in Sydney’s Glenhaven.

Meg Smith (not her real name) says she went to Mercy because of the group’s promise of free treatment for her anxiety disorder and panic attacks.

But she quickly became disheartened after “free” meant signing over her Centrelink payments to the group and “treatment” didn’t include proper access to doctors, psychologists and social workers.

“The ‘counsellor’ I had was not qualified to treat mental illness… nobody there was. She was in the middle of a mercy ‘in-house program’ to teach her how to prayer counsel,” says Smith.

“I spent months there and the only ‘therapy’ I had was prayer readings and an exorcism.”

She paints a disturbing picture – where a group of vulnerable girls isolated in a suburban home and forbidden to leave or form friendships on pain of being expelled – followed a punishing daily routine.

A seven o’clock wake up call and a stint of cleaning was followed by bible reading.

After that came a “praise” session where the girls would stand in a circle, eyes closed, singing along to Christian music and jumping on the spot with arms outstretched.

After locked food cupboards were opened for a piece of fruit or a few tablespoons of yoghurt it was back to class – usually taking notes from audio tapes by Joyce Meyer, an American evangelist.

After lunch, homework, letter-writing and recreation were followed by more cleaning and bible study.

Smith began to get worse.

“I was having lots of panic attacks… they seemed to be getting worse at ministry,” she said.

“I couldn’t work out why, apart from being away from friends and family and my support network.

“I was self harming – I was cutting my arm with anything I could get my hands on – scratching with anything from my nails to paper clips.

“I never really had a problem with self harm beforehand. When you tell them about self harming they said I was trying to get attention and I was taking their valuable time away from girls with real problems.”

Finally Smith was told she would have to have what she describes as an ‘exorcism’.

“The counsellor gave me a list of different demons – demon of anger, demon of unforgiveness, demon of pride, there were lots of them and I was told to go away and circle the demons I had in me or around me,” said Smith.

“I was really scared… they cast demons out of me, one by one, and they became quite excited and animated during the process, and spoke in tongues.

“It was the counsellors and myself and they put their hands on me and started praying one by one for each of the demons that were on the list to be cast out of me.

“After each demon was cast out I had to say ‘I confirm the demon of X has been cast out of me in the name of Jesus and is unwelcome to return.’

“The whole time I was there, all I heard was that I’m demonic.

“Even after the exorcism, when I had the next anxiety attack, I was told that they had already cast the demons out, so therefore I was obviously either faking it, or I had chosen to let the demons come back, in which case I was not serious about getting better.

“They kept telling us that the world can’t help us, professionals with all their ‘worldly qualifications’ can’t help us, only Mercy could because only they have God’s power.

“So when I was kicked out for being ‘demonic, unable to be helped, not worth a place at Mercy and because I had taken too long to pray to become a Christian… it left me worse than I had ever been before in my life.

“They told me I would never get better now because I had blown my chance. I started cutting my arms and wrists more than ever, with their voices echoing in my mind as I did it.”

Suicidal and self harming after being removed from the program, which she now thought was her only hope, she went to see a “proper psychologist to prepare me to go back to Mercy to help me fit in better.”

“The psychologist had never heard of them but told me to stay away from them… that person helped me more in the 40 minute session – really listening to me and understanding me.”

Smith, who is on the mend after a long process, is not alone.

Other women who spoke to LIVENEWS.com.au described being “literally bible bashed” and supervised during limited visits to GPs and psychiatrists.

– Source: How to cure anorexia with exorcisms, Tim Brunero, Macquarie National News, Australia, July 18, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Why Mercy Ministries was godsent for Hillsong

Mercy Ministries was a godsend for Hillsong. Desperate young women who are violated by the world draw a sympathetic audience. It seemed a simple concept for Hillsong to mimic locally and it was presented as a utopia of female health. Hillsong is an organisation based on recruitment and fund-raising. Mercy Ministries was an opportunity to do both on a new and larger scale. [Read more...]