Exorcisms aren’t entertainment. In fact, they can “get you burned.”
That was the warning from former Seattle Seahawks chaplain, Antioch Bible Church pastor and author Karl Payne as he decried Discover America’s “Exorcism: Live!” television show.
The author of “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance” called the show a “marketing promotion” and told WND, “P.T. Barnum would be proud.”
Payne expressed misgivings about even giving the show “the attention they are desirous of, in essence providing a serious response to something that is not worthy of it.”
He told WND: “Demons do not need more television time to entice curiosity. They need to be stepped on, as said in Luke 10: 18-20, and then ignored.”
He also expressed concern the show could “provide fodder for the people who take joy in in ridiculing anything to do with God, angels, the devil, demons, or anything to do with supernatural.”
“Exorcism: Live!” aired the night before Halloween and featured “medium” Chip Coffey, Bishop James Long and the “Tennessee Wraith Chasers” trying to confront demons at the house where a 1949 exorcism was performed.
That event served as the source material for the film “The Exorcist.”
The London Daily Mail noted, “Live TV exorcism fails to call up any evil spirits … but it did bring out the Twitter trolls.”
The “Wraith Chasers” said they would be looking for “portals,” “vortexes” or possibly even trapdoors to Hell.
The circumstances, critics noted, stretched to the ludicrous. One noted that her own Chinese food bill – $6.66 – happened during the show.
Besides performing their own exorcism, the team also attempted to trap a demon in a “Devil’s Toy Box” mirror setup and summon a spirit during a séance.
Crowds gathered outside the house as the exorcism took place.
Payne said he is concerned about the “public marketing of something so potentially serious as demonization and utilizing a self-professed spirit medium to help exorcise demons.”
“Mediums and demons are on the same side,” he said.
The show didn’t produce any evidence of the supernatural but did lead to widespread mockery on Twitter.
Payne said the show was doomed to failure from the start.
“Demons ultimately care very little for houses or inanimate objects,” said Payne. “Their desire is to attempt to control and destroy human beings, made in the image of God. Houses, objects, animals, etc., are typically a plan B if they are not able to influence or control human beings. They use both curiosity and rebellion to accomplish their tasks.”
Carl Gallups, a talk show host, pastor and author of “Be Thou Prepared” said, “So much of what happened in this television production was thoroughly unbiblical, including the séance and the cartoonish contraption they called the ‘Devil’s Toy Box.'”
He scoffed at the idea the show could have produced anything resembling a real supernatural experience.
“The show was obviously designed to be pure media hype – intended to target ratings, the Halloween season and advertising revenue,” Gallups said, laughing. “If anyone watched the show expecting to see anything genuinely legitimate, they were setting themselves up for a huge disappointment from the start. I seriously doubt if the demonic realm could be so easily manipulated as to ‘show up’ in a TV show – but I am sure that Satan appreciated the media hype which might serve to ratchet up the world’s growing fascination of all things demonic and paranormal.”
And that, said Payne, is the danger.
“Showmanship has nothing to do with genuine deliverance; in fact, it hinders it,” Payne told WND. “Asking a spirit medium to assist in an exorcism, assuming he or she is for real, is a little bit akin to asking an arsonist to participate in a campaign with Smokey the Bear, warning people to stop playing with matches. Can it work? This first depends upon God’s interest in becoming involved in the side show, and second, how a demonic hierarchy chooses to evaluate the relative value of the event to their own benefit.”
Payne explained demons will only engage in activities to further their own plans. This includes interactions with supposed “mediums.”
“Demons can use mediums, but they are not obligated to obey or cooperate with them,” said Payne. “If demons are actually involved and believe authenticating a particular medium’s influence can help endorse their cause by ensnaring more people into demonic bondage, they may be willing to cooperate in a particular process to promote their own causes and agendas.”
Payne emphasized demons follow a system of purpose and hierarchy not subject to control by humans.
“If demons do not think their involvement will ultimately bring honor to their master, they can just as easily refuse to cooperate in the circus of a television show,” he said. “Demons have great respect for rank and authority, but they have no respect for the sanctity of life, and are more than willing to support or sellout their colleagues, depending upon how it impacts their own assignments, their immediate up-line bosses, or ultimately their infernal master and his plans for the systematic death and destruction of God’s people and the distraction and disruption of His plans.”
About 10 years ago, British television aired a live exorcism of a man who was attached to a brain monitor. Despite heavy criticism, the effort by U.K.’s Channel 4 was designed to treat the issue “seriously and scientifically.”
Gallups says the same cannot be said of “Exorcism: Live!” He decried the show because it distorted what he believes is an accurate portrayal of demonic activity in the Bible.
“It is a fact that the Word of God has much to say about the reality of the demonic realm and the prophetic ‘marker’ of a demonic outpouring, as well as a rising fascination with things associated with evil, especially as the last days close in upon the world.”
Gallups, who also authored “Final Warning: Understanding the Trumpet Days of Revelation,” observes such programs may dangerously fuel fascination at what he believes is a spiritually dangerous time for the world.
“There is much ‘spiritual activity’ (of the demonic kind) going on in Washington, D.C., in America, and around the world – just as the Word of God warns us,” he said.
Payne urges Christians to understand it is their faith in Jesus Christ alone that gives them power over demons.
“Demons understand that their own delegated authority is limited and is not as powerful as the delegated authority of a genuine Christian, because the master of the Christian is greater than their master,” he explained. He cited Acts 19 and the story of the sons of Sceva as a “clear demonstration” of Scripture describing what he called a spiritual truth.
“Demons fear Christians, not because of their name, education, denomination, title, personality or popularity, but because they recognize and begrudgingly submit to the absolute authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the delegated authority of the Christian addressing them,” Payne told WND. “Christians successfully dealing with deliverance stand in the delegated authority, position, power and protection of Jesus Christ.”
However, Payne said demonic activity is all too real and warned the dangers of flirting with such activity should not be underestimated. For that reason, he believes “Exorcism: Live!” was dangerous, as well as sensationalistic.
“Attempting to mainstream demonism and the occult as innocent activities representing nothing more than healthy alternative choices among equally healthy participants represents the loss of common sense,” Payne maintained. “Playing with fire can get you burned. Actions have consequences; and some things that begin as seeming harmless curiosity can morph into that which is dangerous.”
Arguing Christians need to recognize the deadly serious reality of spiritual warfare, Payne says he has simple advice for believers.
“It is time to wake up!”