Teen exorcists!

I believe I’ve mentioned the Teen Exorcists before, but if you missed it, you’re missing some real LOLs.  The sad thing, though, is that this isn’t meant to be a joke.

Meet the trio of Brynne Larson and sisters Tess and Savannah Scherkenback:

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As the BBC reports:

[They] are all-American girls from Arizona, who enjoy martial arts and horse riding. But something sets them apart from most teenagers – they perform public exorcisms and often appear on TV chat shows.

Eighteen-year-old Brynne met sisters Tess and Savannah about eight years ago at a karate class.

“We just really hit it off,” says Savannah, aged 21. “I don’t know what happens but somehow you bond when you’re punching one another and throwing knees. We were working out together, learning how to fight and how to defend ourselves and defend others.”

They are now karate black belts, but because of their particular Christian beliefs, they have also decided to do battle – they say – against evil spirits or demons. They believe that these demons can possess a human being and cause suffering, depression or addiction.

“A demon can’t just come into anybody whenever it chooses to – God doesn’t allow that,” says Brynne.

This two-part video from Vice Media, which I recommend viewing in its entirety (it’s about 26 minutes total) includes interviews with the trio, and follows them on a tour to the Ukraine where they proceed to drive Satan out of some troubled people.  It will scare the hell out of you, but also entertain you with some of the more bizarre excrescences of faith.

The young women have been trained by Brynne’s father, the Reverend Bob Larson, who says he has performed more than 15,000 exorcisms. They have appeared alongside him in America and overseas, including the UK.

“Every single country has a specific kind of demon,” says Tess, 18, who loves music and reading.

They believe that the UK in particular is a hotbed for “witchcraft”, because of the popularity of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books.

“The spells and things that you’re reading in the Harry Potter books, those aren’t just something that are made up, those are actual spells. Those are things that came from witchcraft books,” says Tess.

The teens see themselves as “freedom fighters”. During an exorcism they brandish silver crosses and Bibles while confronting the so-called demon to make it return to hell.

Part 2:

Tess, Savannah and Brynne have all been home-schooled. In Brynne’s case it was because her father’s profession led the family to travel widely.

“With going [to] over 20 countries and stuff, I don’t really have time to go to school, but I’ll just sit at my desk and work on calculus or read all my books,” she says. “This is so much better than going to a stinky old school room.”

The Vice reporter, of course, takes them apart completely

h/t: Steve

76 Comments

  1. Dave
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I never realised that “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a documentary!

    Deeply depressing in a way, but I take comfort from the fact that probably >95% of my fellow Brits would fall about laughing if confronted by this crew. The number of people here who would take this stuff seriously is minuscule.

    • Pete Grimes
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      You are quite right, of course. I really wanted to be disgusted [as the comments below] but found my trains of thought on the serious consequences to them and their victims of their strange actions interrupted by hearing the theme tune from “Buffy” playing loudly in my head,

      I am clearly a victim of the pernicious anti-intellectual effects of pop culture :)

      O tempora! O mores! eh?

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      As a corollary, when I first heard of the “Teen Exorcists” I though it was a new fictional series. There’s definitely some mileage to be had in that idea.

      • Dave
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        To be followed in short order by the porno version – “Teen Sexorcists”. There’s definitely mileage in that!

        Not that I’m a fan of that kind of thing, you understand….

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:32 am | Permalink

          I’m afraid to say, that was my first thought too.
          Actually, I’m not afraid to say it, or even to post it.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

            Exactly what I thought too. Just shows what an elevated plane the staggering intellects of this website function on. We’re all doomed. Or damned. Beyond redemption, anyway.

            • Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

              Domed, I should think.

              But these teens, though nubile and of legal age, would hold no interest for me. The presenter, on the other hand, I could imagine wishing I had the courage to ask on a date….

              b&

              • Paul S
                Posted September 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

                When confronted with homophobes, I ask if they’re afraid teh gaiz will ask them for a date, or are they afraid they won’t.

      • Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        You laugh but that’s a TV series idea that could be sold to the networks in the US. How depressing.

    • John Taylor
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      I also thought of Buffy as soon as I saw this.

    • Schmorty Pantload
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Excellent comment.

  2. Don
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    It’s no doubt fair assume the sisters’ utterly deranged father is mostly to blame for their ridiculous mission in life. They’re so fervent now, but I have to wonder whether in 20 years’ time, after Reverend Bob is beneath the sod, they will have come to their senses.

    • Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Nah, by then they’ll be stars in L’Oreal and Maybelline commercials and be picking up minor roles in TV sitcoms, before finishing their celebrity careers as game show contestants and ecstatic studio audience members.

      • Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        They’d be killer reality show participants…

      • microraptor
        Posted September 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        Are you sure they won’t be known for their wild, deranged behavior in public and frequent trips to detox clinics?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:35 am | Permalink

          The two career paths are not mutually incompatible. Nor is the reality TV future implausible, which could be unbelievably hilarious.

  3. John
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Bob Larson (at the time an evangelist) came to my parent’s church in the middle 1960′s when I was a teenager, if its the same guy. The M.O. is similar. He preached against the sin of rock and roll and how it would warp your mind. He even played some rock so the old, not too cool people could see how it was indeed the devil’s music. I guess they wanted me to feel guilty but I didn’t get the message, in fact, I played in rock bands throughout high school and college. Shades of the deep past.

    • David Duncan
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      If it’s the same Bob Larson who came to your church in the Sixties then he can indeed perform miracles if he fathered Brynne in the mid-Nineties. :-)

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

        Same sort of miracle that Charlie Chaplain (and many others) performed in their 90s. Allegedly.

      • John
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        I figure that person, at the time, was in his late twenties, with blond hair and a surfer type-West coast hip, etc. Maybe 10-15 years older than me. So, its possible. Who knows. He freaked me he out. I can still tell you what he was wearing, etc.

  4. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Yikes!… and sub.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      .

  5. marksolock
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  6. JOHN MORTON
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow, 3:50 was as far as i could stomach.

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. What is going to become of these three girls and the stuff in the Ukraine was just tragic.

  8. Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    That’s actually what evil really looks like: a slick conman perverting everything around him, getting rich selling snake oil that actively does harm and prevents his truly-suffering victims from getting the real help they so desperately need.

    The presenter was the only person on camera with any sort of moral integrity. She obviously and desperately wanted to break out of the documentary mode her task put her in, and her frustration at understanding that there’s nothing she could do was almost as heartbreaking as watching the actual abuse of the victims.

    It was also damned disturbing noting how many of the psychological manipulation techniques discovered a half century ago were on display. The Stanford Prison Experiment, Milgram’s work, the blue eye / brown eye experiment…all of it was there in one form or another. But those researchers meant their findings to be cautionary tales, not instruction manuals! They were meant to help provide tools to thwart such manipulation!

    Damn. Feel like I need a shower. I can only imagine what the presenter felt like….

    b&

    • Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      How did he do harm to anybody? All the people shown in this documentary seemed to be better after the excorcism. How does he prevent anybody “from getting the real help”? Those people probably can’t afford to see a psychotherapist so he’s not to blame.

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        No-one is “better off” after an exorcism. It’s a carnie side show. At best the victim comes out exhausted and humiliated. At worst, depending on the exorcist’s personal tastes, they come away with physical injuries assuming they don’t get killed.

        We live in the 21st century and it’s pathetic to have to point out that there is no such thing as demons or possession by evil spirits. People who make their livings off the gullibility of others are little better than predators, no matter how well-intentioned or ignorant they may be themselves.

        • mystywoods
          Posted February 26, 2014 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Well said GS. I couldn’t have put it better.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        Those people probably can’t afford to see a psychotherapist

        What do you mean “afford”? Don’t your taxes go to fund medical care, to reduce the number of mentally ill people on the streets? Or does your country just give the police guns to shoot them?
        (The Ukraine doesn’t have a wonderful public health system, but it does have one. Or it did when my wife lived there.)

      • kennyrb
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        I grew up in Pentecostalism where this theology was accepted. It is very, very pernicious. The main problem is the long term affects for the people who go through it. As an example, think about a gay young person growing up in this environment. When the actual exorcism happens, many individuals take the cathartic elements as a sign that the exorcism removed the “problem” but, of course, the underlying reality is unchanged. The long term result is that gayness (or whatever else one wants to be rid of)is personified. One has to do mental battle with this “person” every time the gay desire surfaces. Think about living like that for your entire life.

  9. rose
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Hope they don’t get a reality show.What they do are the stuff of reality shows. Don’t let TLC know about them.

    • marcoli666
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Oh, my d*g, that would be scary (and very possible). With so many competing shows about ghost hunters, the next natural step in the downward spiral of the former educational channels would be shows with teenage exorcists.

    • JOHN MORTON
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      TLC would snap that up in a heartbeat, they should be made to change their name to something more appropriate, maybe “TBS”??? Total BS.

      • Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        There’s already a network with that name: Turner Broadcasting System.

        b&

        • John
          Posted September 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Did you mean Trinity Broadcasting System?

  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    WTF, Creationism!

    I’m depressed now. In order to exorcise the sight of incredulous and often harmful superstition, I’ll have to put on some of the eminent “sinful” music of the kind Jerry has provided us with.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 2:44 am | Permalink

      I can confirm that Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ (which is just by chance what I’ve got in my headphones right now) is quite effective at countering the malign effects of the three smiling assassins. And I’ll follow it up with ‘Comfortably Numb’…

      The Devil has all the best tunes ;)

  11. Brian
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Woah, woah, woah. My Harry-Potter-filled-childhood is being validated by these girls. I want to read these witchcraft books they speak of. Let’s see some wizard duels.

    We won’t see any, obviously, but religious people should flaunt these things that they find. Witchcraft would be a far better proof of a supernatural being than anything they have come up with so far.

  12. Charles Jones
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    According to none other than Jesus Christ Himself, once one demon is cast out, it will later return with seven of its closest demon friends, and all eight will re-possess the hapless victim. As Jesus Christ the Lord Himself concluded, “So the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Mathew Chapter 12:25, 43-45)

    So, Jesus was a real Jerk when He cast out all those demons into pigs, and these three girls are simply continuing a long tradition of evil jerkdom in the name of the Lord. Imagine all those poor people now possessed by eight demons instead of only one!

  13. Brian
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I can grasp the logic of a cathartic healing process to a victim of sexual abuse. I can see the exorcists trying to remove Satan’s influence from a rapist. But a woman who has been raped subsequently has been living with the devil inside of her for twenty-two years? That’s almost worse than saying it was her fault.

  14. kevinj
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    That really was unpleasant viewing.
    All those poor sods who need help and instead get that instead.
    Curious how he ignored that woman though, makes me start to suspect those who get up on stage and are “cured” are very carefully selected/prepared.

    • Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      There’s a very distinct possibility that at least a few of the “volunteers” are plants, and it’s very likely that those that aren’t were scouted out beforehand. I would expect the plants at points of key dramatic tension in the show, with the first and last being the most likely. Since the church’s pastor was in on the gag, he would have been perfect for singling out the non-plants most likely to fall for it.

      And the plants might not even realize that they’ve been manipulated as such. It could well be that they’ve been prepped for it with quasi-sincere “education” about what to expect.

      The whole toxic mess revolves around Larson. He’s a modern-day Jim Jones or David Koresh, only he’s in it more for the money (and, almost certainly, the access to vulnerable women) than for the power. Don’t get me worng — he’s very much in it for the power as well. But the balance in his case is more towards the creature comforts than in the explosively destructive cult leaders.

      Oh, and it’s as sure a bet as they come that he doesn’t believe a word of what he preaches — not that he’ll ever admit to the fact.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:50 am | Permalink

        I was watching Wots-his-name-Rubber-Face in a film called “I love you Phillip Morris” a couple of weeks ago (thought about ordering a DVD for a gay friend ; turned out, he’d got it already), which had an excellent scene with Rubber Face’s con-man character doing a perfect cold reading on a judge. It’s a skill. Teachable, subtle, but definitely a skill. Whether or not one should acquire it …. No, I couldn’t bring myself that low.

  15. Hempenstein
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The young women have been trained by Brynne’s father, the Reverend Bob Larson, who says he has performed more than 15,000 exorcisms.

    At one/day that’s 41yrs worth.

    • Trophy
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing with enough XP, you get AoE spells that can be used for mass excorsim.

      Wait, this is about a video game right?

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        Good point – he could pull a Sun Myung Moon (who, I see, has recently ceased to be) and do a mass 365/yr and spend the rest of the year fishing. But don’t exorcees expect individual attention these days?

      • kennyrb
        Posted September 15, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        Actually there was a time in the seventies when some Pentecostal exorcists would hand out paper bags to everyone in the church service so that all could throw up their evil spirits. So yes, someone like this can claim to do many more than one exorcism a day. Also, they often seem to find more that one spirit lurking about in each person.

    • Mattapult
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      15,000 exorcisms doesn’t impress me.

      But one exorcism performed sucessfully in front of James Randi and Stanton Samenow would be highly impressive. But with competant, no-B.S. witnesses, the odds of success is effectively zero.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink

      And if you do them by the hundred in mass meetings, it’s much more achievable.

  16. Dave
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Goes for help with her varicose veins, finds out she has a demon. This is why I can’t stress enough the importance of an annual ritual, er, physical, which may lead to early diagnosis and improve the chances of successful treatment!

  17. Dave
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    “With going [to] over 20 countries and stuff, …”

    That there home schoolin’ is payin’ off big time!!

  18. Dave
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Ahh, second video, 11:45: the Xian shows his true colors!

    • Dave
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, make that about 10:58.

  19. Posted September 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I get the impression that the demons over in the Ukraine are rather lazy, fat and complacent. Even I could cast them out and I don’t even believe in demons! American demons are much sharper and on-their-toes – they have to be with all the skilled exorcists running around here.

    • microraptor
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      I thought casting out demons in the US just required you to hose down the possessed person with positively charged slime.

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 3:41 am | Permalink

      Hm. I wonder if there’s a danger of demons getting cross-resistant.

  20. pacopicopiedra
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t do it. I only made it through five minutes. That man is disgusting.

  21. RFW
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if anyone has ever said to these girls “Wipe those smiles off your faces. You are actively harming people with your insane bibblical bullshit.”

    • Achrachno
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      They seem very shallow and unreflective. Do they even care if they hurt people, if it’s for Jesus? Or, in the case of Bob Larson, if the money’s good? Are they just as damaged as their victims, but in different ways?

      Did Vice do this undercover, or are they all clueless about the nature of Vice reporting? It just seemed like dumbness and superficiality wall-to-wall. How could they think Vice would not show that? Have they never seen a Vice report?

      They hurt people and don’t seem to know it. They open themselves to very sharp critics and seem to have no idea what they’re facing. Sociopaths too stupid to take care of themselves? Weird.

    • microraptor
      Posted September 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing that they’ve been carefully trained to believe that anyone telling them such things is actually a devil worshiper who’s trying to corrupt them so they shouldn’t listen to a word they’re told.

      • mystywoods
        Posted February 26, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        That’s the exact methodology. Teach their children that anyone who doesn’t believe everything they do must have the devil in them.

  22. Tim Harris
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    LOLs? It’s heart-rending.

  23. Posted September 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    As a Christian and a former full time pastor, I find what these young ladies are doing ridiculous. There is no evidence that Christians can be “possessed” by demons. Abuse and mis-use of the Scriptures have made a mockery of Christianity. Bob has been making a fool of himself for a long tome.

    • Dave
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Bob has been preparing to make a fortune for himself for a long time.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      I see what you did there: the Bible is indeed a long tome.

    • mystywoods
      Posted February 26, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      There’s no evidence that anybody can be ‘possessed’ by ‘demons’ because it’s all superstitious voodoo and mumbo-jumbo. There are no such things as invisible beings of any sort. It’s simply a remnant idea from our primal days of believing that anything we didn’t understand was some sort of magic. It’s time we let all that go with the old generations who still hold steadfastly on to the beliefs their own parents taught them, out of fear, or mere habit and aversion to change; and grow. Or, dare I use the ‘E’ word? Evolve.

  24. zengardener
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Clinically, how do exorcisms compare to other forms of drug rehabilitation?

  25. BillyJoe
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    There’s a ?sham psychiatric therapy called “Primal Therapy” which ends with a cathartic “primal scream”.
    No gods necessary apparently.

  26. Posted September 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Ain’t folk just great?

    Racing about shouting about evil, and Satan and the power of little baby Jesus and his grumpy, angry, cruel, thunder god Father, or adult aspect, you know that dude who is supposed to be omnipresent and omniscient but fails to be so, and the Devil is always small and pathetic isn’t it?

    OH NO! My next door neighbour is possessed by the Devil, he looks at people with a scowl upon his face, spits out swear words and is generally unpleasant, what a threat to the World he is, well done Satan for possessing my next door neighbour who works as an account at a building company.

    Well done Satan for NOT possessing a World leader, you know men like President Obama, who claim to be Christian possessed by the Holy Spirit as they declare war on a bunch of poor people out in the Middle East and kill a million babies. Hmm.

  27. Posted September 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    As a magician, I would love the opportunity to be one of the ‘volunteers’, and prep myself with every demonic illusion I could think of. So when he tries his exorcism b.s., I could have flames burst from my sleeves, slip a pair of scary contacts in, ooze blood from my mouth and shoes, levitate slightly, etc. It would be great to see what his/the girls reaction would be, especially if it involved them screaming and running away in terror. Then of course I’d let the audience know it was just a trick.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

      Except the audience wouldn’t believe you. :(

  28. Didier Hanson
    Posted September 15, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Can you believe this? Incredible.They could hire Linda Blair as well,no?

    From Didier via IPad 4.

  29. madscientist
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    Az sure has gone to hell since I left almost 30 years ago. We need better education to purge the state (and the entire union for that matter) of the Buffy wannabes.

  30. mystywoods
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure these fools would say Billy Connolly was possessed by the devil simply because he swears; and yet his church-going father who regularly sexually abused him as a child, but never swore, they’d probably see as a saint. Just like all those other self-righteous child-abusers in the church.

  31. mystywoods
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Ten minutes of this program was enough for me. These girls are either 100% brainwashed or seriously mentally ill.


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