Sunday 05 July 2020

It’s the devil’s work: programme highlights exorcism practices in NL

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Reports of traumatised adults who were subjected to exorcism as teenagers have prompted MPs to call for an official investigation, the NRC reports.

The paper, together with investigative journalism programme De Monitor, interviewed a number of adults who said they had been ‘psychologically damaged’ by exorcism as members of religious communities.

The programme, which will be broadcast on Monday on NPO2, claims ‘hundreds’ of churches in the Netherlands exercise exorcism on people who have psychological or medical problems. These range ‘from Parkinson to Gilles de la Tourette, from anorexia to hitting a bit of a rough patch in life,’ the paper said.

The programme claims the practice holds a prominent place in some churches, particularly Pentecostal groups. It also show shows freelance ‘liberation preacher’ Herman Boon speaking to a roomful of children. Boon organises so-called ‘wake up camps’ where children, according to endorsements by children on his own website, learn ‘to chase away demons’’

MPs across the board have now asked for an official investigation to find out how widespread exorcism is. ‘The problem is that there are no reports and child protection services only investigate if people alert them. And children in this sort situations won’t do that and their parents are believers,’ D66 MP Vera Bergkamp told the paper.

Juvenile law professor Mariëlle Bruning told the paper it is worrying that churches are labelling medical and psychological complaints as the devil’s work. ‘We need to know if there are more children who are offered only exorcism when what they need is regular care,’ she said.

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