Three girls led by ‘foremost expert on cults’ claim to cast out demons

Religion News Blog — Brynne, 17, Tess, 17 and Savannah, 20, from Phoenix are black belts in karate, expert horseback riders and avid musical theater fans. And they perform exorcisms.

ABC Nightline has done a video report on the girls, and notes Brynne’s father, Bob Larson, says he has performed more than 10,000 exorcisms in the last 30 years.

That would be Bob “the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena” Larson — as he refers to himself at his website.

As we mentioned in a report yesterday one would be hard-pressed to find any Christian apologist, cult expert, or theologian familiar with these fields who takes those claims seriously.

In 2006 FOX 6 in San Diego asked Larson some tough questions:

Nightline says

Before agreeing to perform an exorcism, Larson interviews his clients to determine whether they are, in his opinion, demonically possessed. The client must fill out a questionnaire and give some background on his or her personal history.

But Larson claims that 50 percent of the population is probably affected by demons in some way and his girls are the front line of defense. Armed with crosses, Bibles and holy water, the girls summon the demon within the subject, and then the demon apparently takes over the person’s body. Brynne said she can tell when someone is demonically possessed when she looks into his eyes. […]

Larson said that sometimes the people who come to them to be exorcised are a little taken aback when they see how young the girls are.

“It’s like, ‘They’re going to exorcise me?’ It’s just totally out of the box. But a few minutes into it, when they see the boldness and the confidence, the maturity and the knowledge of these girls, that all fades away,” he said.

“We’re not proud of ourselves,” Tess said. “We’re humble. We’re still learning.”

Nonetheless, there are very serious questions about the safety and morality of what the girls are doing for others, especially those who might need mental health care. […]

When asked if she thought the exorcisms could be making people with mental illness worse, Brynne disagreed.

“We do this under Dad’s supervision. We never do it alone,” she said. “He’s been doing it for 30 years. He would know if something was going wrong.”

However, Bob Larson has been accused of fraud and taking advantage of vulnerable people who are either desperate or prone to suggestion.

The Rev. Darrell Motal of the “Soul & Spirit” Para Church, who believes in the existence of demons, told “Nightline” that Larson is too quick to blame someone’s problems on demonic possession and that it’s more likely that Larson’s clients need mental health care and spiritual guidance. […]

While Larson admitted that he was not a mental health expert, he said if a demon is “blocking the therapeutic help, the therapy’s not going to go anywhere significantly.”

“Get the demon out, the impediment, and then the therapy can go forward,” Larson said.

What’s more, Larson and the girls’ exorcism sessions are not free, and he insists that one session almost never does the trick.

For a brief ABC Nightline video as well as related video reports, see Teen Girl Exorcism Squad: Three Arizona Girls Claim to Cast Out Demons, and for the full item visit ABC Nightline’s YouTube channel.

Research resources on exorcism
Research resources on Bob Larson Ministries
How to select a cult expert

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 6, 2012.
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