Been feeling a bit odd lately? Did your last date with a Oujia Board end with your roommate babbling in ancient Assyrian and levitating off the ground? Had any head-spinning vomiting moments this month?
Don't worry: Rev. Bob Larson is here to help. America's top exorcist-for-hire is in Miami today, and he'll kill your demonic possession for the low price of $495. Riptide caught up for Larson for a chat about the life of an exorcist. Click through for a Q&A.
Larson, who rose to prominence with his syndicated Evangelical talk radio show Talk Back, turned his focus to exorcisms in the 90s. He says he studied the craft with the Vatican's top demon-slayers and now runs an Arizona-based church focused on exorcisms.
Now he has books, DVDs ("Do You Have a Demon?"), even an online DemonTest that claims to figure out your vulnerability to Lucifer's minions. (Riptide is too scared of the answer to give that one a shot).
Larson is holding a free seminar on exorcisms at the Hilton Miami Airport tonight at 7 p.m. He's also available for private one-on-one exorcisms, but those will set you back $495. (Intrigued? Possessed? Call 303-980-1511 if you're in the market.)
New Times: Do you find a lot of people wanting exorcisms these days?
Rev. Bob Larson: I seldom ever am in a city where I don't do one or more live exorcisms. There's a lot of need out there.
Just read the headlines over the weekend about what happened in Tucson. That's an obvious example of something more than just an ideological or a schizophrenic act. A psychotic person might do something like shooting a politician. But to put a bullet in 9 year old girl? That's pure evil.
In a case like Jared Lee Loughner, though, isn't there obviously mental illness at work?
Mental illness is obviously involved. But the vast majority of schizophrenics and or psychotic people don't commit mass murder. Something else is at work inside of them.
My reason for referencing Tucson, really, is that's a vivid illustration of what's bubbling underneath our culture, ready to explode at any moment. The number of people walking the streets with demons is far more excessive than most people realize.
Let's back up and talk about your background. Exorcisms are usually associated with Catholics. How did you get involved as an Evangelical?
I've been to the Vatican, actually, and I've met with the chief exorcist there. We are in agreement on almost all the issues. I'm very familiar with the Catholic rite. Our ceremony isn't dissimilar, except it's not quite so formal and ritualistic in tone. But the basic facts and information is essentially the same.
The root of the ritual is to find out who the demon is and how it got there. And then to use the authority of Christ to cast it out. The basic elements are still there.
What kind of things do you see doing exorcisms? Is it ever Hollywood-style paranormal stuff?
I've see everything. I've seen levitation and supernatural languages. Materializations and dematerliazations. In general, what I see is a troubled person who is also experiencing supernatural phenemona in their lives. And not knowing what to do about it.
Last Friday night, in my last seminar, I did an exorcism of a huge guy, 6'4", 200 pounds, trained to kill in the Army Special Forces. He had a demon that had been in the family bloodline for four generations, and it was wanting to use his training to kill people.
Even though he himself was a really nice guy when he was in his own right mind. But this evil was embedded in him and his family for four generations.
Don't people like him need mental health care or drug treatment more than an exorcism?
When you've done as many thousands and thousands of exorcisms as I have, it's not that difficult to determine whether it's a psychotic issue or a demonic issue. You can spot it quickly. If someone has a mental health issue, I tell them that all the time, that they need to seek medical care for that problem.
You can spot immediately a person who has a mental health issue. It's clear from how they talk. It's quite different from a possession. Almost always, the demon overtakes the person, and the demon speaks in the third person and addresses you in a state of consciousness in the part of the person. That's different than someone who's delusional and talking crazy and saying things that don't make any sense.
Occasionally, of course, you find people who are both psychotic and have demons. In those cases I don't deal with it until they've been properly treated psychiatrically. I'd be happy to do an exorcism, but you have to go back to your psychiatrist first.
How did you get started doing exorcisms?
I'd sort of been doing it behind the scenes for quite a while. For 20 years I did a nationally syndicated radio talk show, and they'd call me up and other voices would start speaking out of their bodies on the air.
So I'd start dealing with it on the radio. Then twelve years ago I decided to go public. The subject, as long as it was in the backroom behind closed doors, it wasn't being faced by society. The peole who needed help wouldn't reach out to find it. They weren't aware of the possibility. By my doing my work in public, I'm making people aware that there's help out there.
Anyone reading this who is aware of a friend or relative or family member who is spiritually tormented or tormented some kind of way that may be supernatural should talk to us. Or also people who are just curious. They should come to the seminar tonight. Often, the people we're doing the most exorcisms on are not those coming thinking they need to get an exorcism.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.