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March 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Meet America's top exorcist, the inspiration for 'The Rite'

Editor's Note: This story comes from a new CNN Special, "Stories Reporter," with Tom Foreman which features an in-depth look at the news of the day.

By Tom Foreman, CNN

The sun was shining on the Santa Cruz Mountains. The freeway from the San Francisco airport to San Jose was still buzzing in my ears when I stepped into the parking lot of an unassuming church and the most famous exorcist in America walked up.

“Hello, I’m Father Gary Thomas.”  At 57 years old, he has an easy smile, an abiding love for the Giants and strong convictions about the nature of evil.

"You believe there is a devil?"  I ask him as we settle in at a small, beautiful chapel near the church.

“Yes.”

“You believe that this devil acts upon people?”

“Correct.”

He says it with the certainty that I reserve for answers to questions like, “Did you bring your lunch?” but that’s no surprise.  He has faced skeptics many times and never more than now, because his life and training as an exorcist in Rome are the inspiration behind the Hollywood film "The Rite."

Father Gary Thomas at the premier of 'The Rite'

Indeed, at the premiere, as the cameras swirled around the star, Anthony Hopkins, Thomas walked the red carpet alongside him.  This movie, like salvation, is something the priest believes in.

“First of all,” he says, “it was very emotional for me.  I found some of those scenes very riveting.  I found some of them very profound.  They’re very accurate.  That’s what I’ve seen in real life.”

That’s saying something.  "The Rite" is chock-full of heaving, cursing, ranting characters, who, according to the screenplay, are possessed by Satan, people who one moment seem fine and the next are raging against all that is holy.

And yet, Thomas says people who fear that very fate come to him constantly.  “Well, often times they’ll begin the conversation with ‘Father, I need an exorcism.’  And my answer back to them is, ‘I don’t do them on demand.’”

But he does think a lot more of them need to be done.  It is all part of a push by the Vatican to make more exorcists available to the faithful.  Some in the Catholic Church believe the world is facing a rising tide of demonic activity, particularly in America, where millions are moving away from traditional faiths and looking for alternatives.

"A lot of folks dabble in the occult, or they will be involved in practices that … classical Christianity at least would consider to be idolatrous.  People can get themselves involved in Wicca, or people will go see some sort of fortune-teller, or people will go to a séance, or they can go and they can learn how to channel spirits. …"

A vision of politician Christine O’Donnell fills my head and I interrupt.  “But a lot of people would tell you up front, ‘I’m just playing around.’”

“Right.  Absolutely.  And it’s not,” he says, noting that those who feel adrift from the church and from others of faith are more likely to be drawn in.  “Demons are always looking for human beings who have broken relationships.”

Simply put, Thomas believes just as surely as a person can summon God through prayer, through other rituals, the devil can be called, too.

Father Thomas, left, and Tom Foreman

Thomas says an exorcism usually takes from 45 minutes to two hours and involves reciting prayers, reading scriptures and using sacramental objects such as crucifixes and holy water.  Of course, that’s like saying surgery involves a knife and some sponges.

It is vastly more complicated.  Before the rite is even considered, there must be psychological testing by professionals, extended consultations and questions about drug and alcohol addiction.

Thomas says fully 80% of the people he meets claiming demonic possession have actually suffered some kind of abuse.  An exorcism, he says, is the last step in a long process.

“I have a particular situation now,” he says, “where I think this particular person is suffering from a very unique psychological disorder, but she’s also been exposed to satanic cults, and I want to make sure that what we’re dealing with … is satanic or if it is psychological.”

Even when an exorcism is prescribed, it often must be repeated.  Judging from Thomas' comments, it takes something of a trained eye to decide whether it is even working.

Father Thomas and Anthony Hopkins at the premier of 'The Rite.'

The movie, to be frank, complicates this whole discussion.  Not "The Rite."  Thomas says he likes that one, and found Anthony Hopkins a “delightful” man.

But rather the movie from 1973.  "The Exorcist" captured America's imagination about demons taking over a person’s body and profoundly shaped the public's perceptions about the process of throwing those devils out.  It was lurid, violent and unforgettable.

It was also based on a real exorcism in Washington, which was far less dramatic than the film.  Thomas will tell you emphatically there are no spinning heads, spewing pea soup or levitating bodies.

But he has seen manifestations of possession.  "Sometimes the person's head will begin to move in very rigid ways.  Sometimes their eyes will roll.  Sometimes there will be epileptic-like seizures," Thomas said.  "Occasionally people will take on kind of a body language of a serpentine look, and they'll begin to stick their tongue out and use their tongue in ways that would look snake-like, and they'll coil up in a snake-like position."

“And these are things that you have seen in real life?” I ask.

"I have seen that," he said with a wry smile.

I’ve seen it, too.  A few years ago I went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to report on a Protestant exorcist who was holding a session in a hotel meeting room.  Several dozen people filed in while, no kidding, "The Devil Inside" by INXS played on a stereo system.

Suffice to say, there were plenty of eye-rolling, seizure-like eruptions in the crowd as people cried out and the exorcist confronted them, pressing his Bible against their heads, and demanding that their demons reveal their names.

We talked to some of the participants before and after, talked to the exorcist, too. For all their heartfelt expressions of belief, I can’t help but ask Thomas the same thing I asked that night: Couldn’t all these folks just be acting?

"I don't think they're acting out in a conscious sense,” he says, “because many times … they don't remember the experience itself.”

What’s more, he says, occasionally the person will do something that defies explanation.  "Sometimes the person will begin to speak in a language in which they have no competency in.”

Meaning, for example, someone who knows no German might start speaking precisely and accurately in that language.  Thomas says he has witnessed that, too.

I stopped by the Pew Center in Washington, where some of the best research on religion is done, to ask about all this.  Allison Pond is a charming young researcher who kindly sat me down before delivering some startling news: A Pew survey found more than one in 10 Americans have witnessed an exorcism, and when you narrow it down to Pentecostals it’s about one in three.

“Forty percent of Americans said they completely believe angels and demons are active in the world,” she told me, “with 28% telling us they mostly believe this."

That is the kind of information that needs more than a priestly explanation, so I roamed over to Georgetown University to talk to Ori Soltes, a theologian.  The problem, he says, is that we can’t know for sure what people mean when they say they’ve seen an exorcism.  Was it a formal ceremony?  A personal revelation?  A changed way of life?

Still, he has no doubt that claims of demonic meddling are high, because, after all, the year 2000 rolled around less than a dozen years ago, and at every millennium fears of the devil’s influence rise.

"My sense is that we are still in the backwash from the millennium,” he says, “but then you know ... events have helped to proliferate that:  9/11,  the war in Iraq.  And now as we approach 2012, suddenly everyone is very interested in the Mayan calendar and how we interpret the idea that the apocalypse is coming in December of 2012 at the time of equinox ... all that sort of stuff.”

So maybe it’s no wonder that Thomas is getting calls for exorcisms from not only Catholics, but also from followers of other faiths.

"How often?" I ask.

"I would say probably one out of 10."

Thomas says there are about 50 Catholic exorcists in the United States, and that’s not nearly enough.  He’d like to see one exorcist in every parish.  But until that day, he does not mind explaining over and over what exorcisms are really all about.

“It's a healing ministry.  It's not hocus pocus.  It's not smoke and mirrors.  It's not magic. But I think if we don't respond to people who come in their very troubling moments, I think it diminishes us as a church."

Despite all that Hollywood has done to mythologize exorcisms, he still believes in the power of this rite, a power born not of fear, but of faith.

CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Katie Ross contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Devil • Mass • Movies • Vatican

soundoff (1,247 Responses)
  1. St. Dogma

    Look, everyone cannot be intelligent. That's just a fact. So stop wondering why people need to believe in this stuff, they just do. They need something to pin all their problems and troubles on, so they have the devil. And smarter folks need a way to control them, so they use the devil. Don't argue with them or try and make them see reason, might as well tell a 4 year old there's no Santa Claus. Some people will always believe what they want/need.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  2. Still a believer

    Just a few observations on the article and on the discussion –
    (for those who feel like flaming me for typo's, sorry in advance, I'm only on one cup of coffee 😉

    Father Thomas did specify that they investigate for abuse, psychological disorders, and addiction issues first. So at least give the guy credit for probably helping people get needed medical attention. It's still possible that mistakes are made, but at least they make the effort.

    Secondly, people approach excorcists (see, there goes that spelling again) for help. The church doesn't go looking for them.

    Thirdly, there are all kinds of believers. Some have bigger struggles than others. I lost a lot of my faith a long time ago for a lot of reasons, but have found it again. Coincidentally or not, my life has improved a Lot since then. Not because I hear voices, see signs, or persecute others for my own gain and because God tells me to. I think it's because trying to live by His teachings is 'in step' with good relationships and stability – two things I lacked when I fell away from faith. I won't tell anyone what they should do with their worldview, philosophy, or beliefs, or lack of. I won't insult them, either.

    I will say that I've heard the argument that Jesus must have been insane – this is a flawed theory, because a lot of impartial observers reported the same events his own followers recorded. Were they all insane? Were there a bunch of educated witnesses that all decided to fabricate the same stories, in different places and times? There's a lot more evidence that Jesus was who he said he was. Many horrible atrocities have been carried out in his name – but they have nothing to do with his teachings. They have a lot more to do with the adversary. Many do not believe he exists, but I think everyone knows that evil does exist. Christians give it a name.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Dee

      Faith cannot be found outside yourself, that's why so many are lost.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Frogist

      @Still a believer: I am glad your life is better for your faith. Everyone has different paths to living a good life. Having said that, I doubt there is any evidence Jesus is who he said he was. None that would hold up to scientific scrutiny. Otherwise, that would have been front page news. I don't say this to put down your choice to be a believer, I say it because it seems to be a misleading statement you have made.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  3. learned hands

    That's quite a racket the Catholic church has. Abuse children until they're convinced they're possessed by demons, then come in and drive out the demons. All tax exempt. What a farce.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  4. JDonaldson

    This is very serious news! I wish CNN would send an investigative reporter to find out how my sister made Santa Clause disappear when I was 12.....

    March 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  5. thebeerdude

    "Before the rite is even considered, there must be psychological testing by professionals, extended consultations and questions about drug and alcohol addiction." That's good news. I would hate to see a mentally unstable, drug addicted priest perform an exorcism. Who knows what could happen.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  6. C5Lifestyle

    Why would a major news organization put mythology on the front page of their website? This is so ridiculous that it makes me want to stop paying attention to CNN. Doesn't anyone do any investigations before putting these stories out there? Or are they all believers of this junk? There is zero evidence of gods and devils and whatever. Faith is for people that choose not to learn. And that is what CNN has become.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Dennis

      They learned that hot button topics means lots of clicks.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Hmm

      "Faith is for people that choose not to learn. "

      Learning includes manners.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Michael

      Why would you want to pay attention to CNN anyway?!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • dude

      really honestly, calm down all these atiests and i dont care how its spelled, but whats your deal? for some crazy reason if you are correct who cares, at least the believers learned good manners and lived a good life. stop the fighting its pure nonsense

      March 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Frogist

      @dude: Your backhanded insults are condescending enough. But when partnered with your wanting to remain ignorant of your spelling errors, it seems telling. I don't assume all Christians or believers are hateful, wallowing-in-the-mud, ignorant fools, even though your post comes across as such. Why must you do the same to atheists? And yes, that is how you spell that word.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Dee

    Isn't it interesting that these 'possessions' only occur in individuals capable of speech and influence. I mean, you don't hear of babies, toddlers or animals becoming 'influenced' by the devil and requiring an exorcism. Everything he's claimed to have seen individuals do during 'possession' is perfectly within the realm of mental or physical disorders. Someone levitates, give me a call, then I might consider a paranormal explanation. I can't believe that in this day and age, people still believe in evil horned beasts or an ethereal dude penning a book and telling us to abide by it. Sounds like some of us haven't evolved enough yet.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • DavidMichael

      Only the most fundamentalist of believers seem to get possessed as well. Catholics only seem to get stigmata.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  8. AHAHA

    Christians are gullible people 🙂 just like the people who trust and beleive shamans and medicine people of Africa and old school philosophies....no difference except Christians will bethe first ones to raise their hands and say that a shaman is bologne!!-right back at ya, my crazy Christian bretheren-the burden of proof is on you...and you all have yet to deliver!

    March 7, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Hmm

      Yes, all Christians are exactly the same, just as all atheists are. NOT.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Delsin

      And those who will do anything to protect their limited third-chakra 3D view of the world are gullible too, to the extent that they believe the machinations of the self-perpetuating ego.

      Give me ten minutes of your time and I guarantee you will be able to experience the transfer of energy from one person to another. Healy style. No idea what shamans and whoever the world over are capable of, just know I can help a little bit.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • AHAHA

      LOL-just because we are not Christian, does not mean we are atheists...duh...silly Christians again with their nonsense and ignorance.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Hmm

      I never said I was a Christian, and I never said you were an atheist. Now who is the ignorant one?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  9. Karen

    To all you non believers: what if you're wrong? Before you get defensive, just think about it for a moment.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Dennis

      Do you worry that zeus, allah or Rah is the real god?
      Do you worry that you should be praying like a Puritan or a Mormon or a Catholic?

      What if you're wrong!

      March 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Chris

      " When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

      March 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • omegarising

      If we're wrong then nothing happens, and the only thing we have done is wasted our time believing in something that isn't true. On the other hand, if we are right..well, you get the picture.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • omegarising

      Sorry, I thought you said to all you believers.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Godless

      omegarising wrote: "If we're wrong then nothing happens, and the only thing we have done is wasted our time believing in something that isn't true. On the other hand, if we are right..well, you get the picture."

      You won't have just wasted your time, you'll have wasted your whole life. And that's only if the athiests are right. What if the Muslims are right? Suddenly, you're in the same picture you're asking others to consider...

      March 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Hmm

      Guess we'll all know for sure when we die (or not).

      March 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Dana

      Among philosophers, your very valid question is known as "Pascal's Wager," because it was first posited by Blaise Pascal, a mathematician and philosopher in the 17th century. I'm not going to reveal how he answered it, let's just say he was a very logical man.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Bella

      Agreed! Just what if......

      March 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Chris

      Dana

      Pascal's Wager is one of the weakest arguments made. It suggests your god would be happy with someone 'hedging' their bets rather than someone who followed their mind. And, on top of that would not your all seeing god 'see' through that? Very weak indeed.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  10. Dana

    That was a very interesting article & video, thank you CNN. There is a lot about the world that we don't understand, and to deny the possibility of angels and demons, as well as aspects of other spiritual beliefs is arrogance of the highest order. In addition, the mere fact that 68% of Americans believe all of this could be real makes it a topic worth covering, and I commend CNN for trying to shed a little light on something that really can't be understood rationally. That doesn't mean it's not worth talking about.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • John

      The fact that a lot of Americans might believe in demons and what not might make it news worth. But it should only be given the weight it deserves. You claim it can't be understood rationally is exactly how it should be covered as an irrational view of the world.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  11. Darwin

    If SATAN exists, he must operate under control and direction of GOD. If this were NOT true, then God would not be OMNIPOTENT. Likewise, if SATAN had UNLIMITED supernatural powers, then he would be a SECOND COEQUAL GOD, which is not part of Christian theology. Therefore, whenever Satan acts, it's actually God ordering it.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Hmm

      Using non-supernatural logic of course.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • DavidMichael

      In the story of Job, it is quite clear that Satan is a minion of God and asks God permission to torment Job.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Jess

      Just like you, Satan has free will. He acts out of his free will and not orders from God.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Belief is in the Eye of the Believer

      All the while completely ignoring that God gave humanity the FREE WILL to make it's own choices. No one is forcing you to believe, yet you make your own choice to do so.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Jeff, why did Satan ASK permission of God to torment Satan if Satan was not a servant of God? Why does God give Satan rules to abide by, if Satan would not abide by those rules? Last of All, this scripture also shows that not only is Satan of God, but a son of god as can be found in Job Chapter 1:6

      March 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Hmm: Is there a thing as supernatural logic? I would think the two (logic, and the supernatural) are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Either way until you can explain how it works, I think I'll try to stick to the regular type logic. That way I don't do things without reason.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  12. omegarising

    Odd? I don't remember Jesus ever performing such elaborate, hollywood type dramatic exorcisms. He simply rebuked them in the name of the Lord. Silly Catholics...tricks are for kids.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Delsin

      oh, cmon, you really expect any or most ofthe rest of the faithful to have full JC powers? sure, he said it's possible, but it ain't like there's a lot of us running around healing the blind, either.

      who knows what it looked like when JC exorcised demons. i mean, he did get to talk to demons inside a man and send em into a herd of pigs which then jumped off a cliff. that's a little out ofthe ordinary, no?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. Dennis

    P.T. Barnum would have been proud.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  14. T-rex

    Juai....dirrait?

    March 7, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  15. Plaid Thermos

    are men and women equal....in gods eyes?

    March 7, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Delsin

      i don't think the division even exists from that perspective.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Lady D

      Yes

      March 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Adam PT

      Biblically, or modern opinion? Cause if the former ... then certainly not. They were owned as property and punished or even killed for the most basic 'infractions' (like speaking in church or getting rap*d).

      March 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  16. Blaqb0x

    I know how to exorcise people too. Bring a video camera and record the unfortunate soul. All those supernatural occurrences that are claimed to occur won't simply wont.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  17. josh

    what a freaking nutjob

    March 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  18. Spoke

    Hate-filled atheists who waste their energies attacking Christians in a negative fashion do more to perpetuate Christianity (through avoidance of negatives) than even the most successful of evangelists. A big thank you to those of you who spew statements about how Christians are ignorant and need to join the 21st Century, because you are doing a powerful job of promoting Christianity as a positive counterbalance to your negativity.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Chris

      Here I'll help you a bit more:

      Definition of Christianity: the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Hmm

      Chris, that description is almost as funny as people being descendants of monkeys.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • DavidMichael

      Atheists don't need to "attack" Christians. Their bible does enough damage with its excessive quant ity of contradictions.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • John

      And the greatest tool of the Atheist was always getting people to actually read their bible.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      It is the reading of the bible that makes Atheists and Agnostics

      March 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Stunned

      Hmm

      "Chris, that description is almost as funny as people being descendants of monkeys."

      And you are a descendant of your sister, Hazel, and your first cousin, Clem!

      Get a science book, please.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Stunned

      p.s. "Get a science book, please."

      And read it.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Hmm

      @Stunned: Cute. Have anything of substance to say, or are you content with cheap insults?

      March 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  19. liana

    i find it incredibly funny when non believers attempt to interpret the bible~ when we as christians should know they have no understanding of spiritual things. so to all my christian brthrs and sstrs, continue "fighting the good fight" because as the word of 6od says "he who endures till the end will be saved"

    March 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Chris

      Non believers are far more knowledgeable (show in polls) on religion than believers.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Michael

      I find it incredibly boring when uneducated "believers" start crowing about how they are privy to secret wisdom hidden from the rest of us, when common sense indicates that a broad base of information combined with a solid grounding in logic are the best way to tell truth from falsehood.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Chris

      Ok, help me out. Why does your god approve of slaves (Exodus 21)? And he likes to kill baby boys (keeps the young virgin girls alive though) Numbers 31. Why is this?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Tampa Man

      The statement that non-believers have greater knowledge of religious matters than believers is an oxy-moron since non-believers have denied religious knowledge and faith in the first place. What non-believers DO possess is unjustified arrogance and hyprocrisy. Arrogance in that they claim to have superior knowledge and hyprocrisy in that they claim to deny religion while participating in its ideological rhetoric. They claim it means nothing, while arguing vehemently and demonstrating clearly that it does.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Mark

      @Chris...

      Ahh Yes....the ol' "Athiests are more knowledgable about the Bible.....Christianity.....Religion.....etc". Yep, athiests also know more about a lot of other important things, like what pean-ut but-ter goes best with gra-pe jelly. Which is better...coke or pepsi. How much w-ood a w-oodchuck can chuck. You know, really important things.

      Only thing for sure is that athiests are a lot more impressed with their "knowledge" than the rest of us are.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • DavidMichael

      Why would you assume that simply because someone is a "non-believer" that they lack comprehension skills? In a recent survey, it seems the top biblically literate groups were: Atheists/Agnostics, Jewish, and Mormons. Assuming neither one of these three, you are the one most likely to be biblically illiterate. Have you really never considered that those Atheists and Agnostics are so because they studied the Bible and rejected it because of the loads of inconsistencies found within beginning with the two different Creation stories.

      Being "saved" makes no sense since what are we being saved from....the wrath of god? An eternity in Heaven with a wrathful, vengeful god sounds like hell.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Shannon

      Liana your post is laughable! I do not buy into religion but I was raised in a Fundamentalist church and could quote Bible verses like and good Christian. I've read the Bible cover to cover several times, and I have studied Christianity. One day I woke up and realized that religion is a farce. It is as much a cause for discomfort and hatred as it is for love and understanding. To assume that all non-believers do not know or understand your dogma is very vain of you, and that is one reason I can't stand religion. It seems many (not all) religious people are self serving, pompous jerks who do not reflect any of Jesus' teachings. As Chris says, non-believers are way more knowledgable of religion than you give them credit.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Chris

      Mark you are right. So please help me out. How did Noah get just the Marsupials back to Australia from where the Ark landed? And does a man live in a fish for 3 days? In Numbers 35, why does the person need to wait till the priest dies before leaving the city of refuge? In Deuteronomy 22 why does the girl have to marry her rapist? Thanks in advance.....

      March 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • cc

      True! .We will see who get the last laugh

      March 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • John

      I find it funny that you are so absolutely sure of the existence of God, absolutely sure he created the Universe and did so with you in mind, absolutely sure he created the earth and everything on it to include the first two people and all the animals, absolutely sure you know what god expects of you, but not only you, but your sure you know what he expects of me, that he cares what I eat, who I sleep with and in what position, what I think, even when I am sleeping, and your absolutely sure he will hold all of this against me if it is not within the limits of his expectations of me, because your absolutely sure of what happens when we die. Your so absolutely sure of this and allow for no wiggle room what so ever in anything different, except for what you are so absolutely sure of. I have never met an Atheist or Scientist who is a absolutely sure of same things that you claim you are so absolutely sure of and you have not one shred of convincing evidence of any of this, which you are so absolutely sure of. I am only absolutely sure of one thing, that there is not evidence what so ever to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you can be so sure of the most important events in human history.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  20. Chris R

    While I believe in God I do not believe in the Devil as such. Therefore, I don't believe that exorcisms actually 'drive out' the devil or demons. However, I do think they provide psychological support to those that falsely believe they are possessed and, as such, are useful to those people. They may be served by psychological counseling as well but if this method works then why not use it?

    March 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Dennis

      You're proof that the asylum is being run by the patients.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Andrew

      Why? What Dennis said makes complete sense as long as your not some crazy religious extremist.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • tech

      there is no good without bad.. no light with out dark. it is a natural balance of EVERYTHING on a cosmic scale.. including good and evil.... if you can believe in something so profound as god, how can you possibly say that his opposite.. the devil does not exist?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • DavidMichael

      Tech, biblically the devil as "an opposite" doesn't exist. God created Satan with Satan a servant/angel if you will, of God. You only need to read the story of Job to see that Satan ASKS God permission to inflict woe upon him.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Chris R: I think the question is more does it work? Or does it just indulge someone in their fantastic delusions, and keep them coming back for more? I don't know.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • DeeL

      if you believe in God you believe in the Devil they go hand in hand you cannot pick and choose what you beleieve about religion. God created the Devil.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • John

      @DeeL Of course one can pick and chose what they believe about religion. That is why there are so many and why so many have gone the way of the dodo. It is sad that more of them have not taken that same path; especially the monotheistic ones.

      March 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • John

      @tech What kinda of gibberish are you spouting. So for every good person or good thing in the World there is an equally bad person or bad thing. This is completely childish way to think. Our prison systems are not full enough if this how the world works. The justice system is worse off than I thought it to be. Half the people in the country are good and the other half is bad, so their should roughly be 150M in people prison.

      March 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.