Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pastor Bob & The Teen Angels

Like many parents, I fear that ballooning college tuition costs may jeopardize my son’s ability to obtain a graduate degree. Outside of scholarships or financial assistance, my child may be forced to choose between being under-educated or over-indebted. Fortunately, there is a viable alternative for those who seek higher education at a reasonable price point: The International School of Exorcism.

Located in Denver, Colorado, the ISE is America’s premier training facility for identifying, categorizing, and confronting unclean spirits of the netherworld. Offering three levels of expertise (Apprentice, Warrior, and Exorcist) and courses like “Basic Curse Breaking” and “Ancestral Generational Dissociation & Dissociated Soul Transference”, the ISE provides a skill set most liberal arts universities could only dream of for a fraction of the cost. For only $2,500, you can acquire an exorcism certification accredited by none other than the International Freedom Church. The FAQ does caution that certain credits are unlikely to transfer.

It turns out that both the school (and the International Freedom Church that accredits it) are creations of Pastor Bob Larson who bills himself as the world’s preeminent demonologist. Having appeared on numerous television programs and written several self-help volumes such as “UFO's and the Alien Agenda” and “Rock & Roll: The Devil's Diversion”, Larson is on a mission to rid the world of demons. For those willing to part with $9.95, his website even offers an online diagnostic tool that can assess your level of possession from the comfort of your own home.

Recently, he re-entered the public consciousness by cleverly marketing his daughter and her two friends as “teenage exorcists”. Having been thoroughly trained at the ISE, the girls traverse the globe with Pastor Bob rebuking unclean spirits and accepting donations. The girls reveal that satanic possession can occur simply by reading Harry Potter novels, watching horror movies or having extra-marital intercourse (a condition they refer to as “sexually transmitted demons”).  While some have questioned Pastor Larson’s utilization of young girls to confront nefarious spirits of the underworld, he is quick to admit that “our female, teenage exorcists are particularly effective at curing the possessed”.
Pastor Bob and his Teenage Exorcists

Aside from a well-worn Bible and youthful complexion, each of the protégées wields a “Cross of Deliverance” personally anointed by Pastor Larson. For those unable to secure an audience with Bob’s team to resolve their demonic infirmity, they can have their own “Cross of Deliverance” sent to their home simply by making a donation of at least $100 to the exorcism ministry. Investors are assured that each and every “Cross of Deliverance” was personally anointed by Larson and is guaranteed to “be recognized in Hell as a visible extension of confidence in the victory over Satan by the Crucifixion of Christ”.

I must admit that Pastor Larson’s circular web of self-accreditation is nothing short of brilliant. It takes aptitude to found a church and then utilize that same church to legitimize a school of exorcism; both of which rely solely on the reputation and expertise of a man who, by all appearances, holds nothing more substantial than a high school diploma. “Credits are unlikely to transfer” might be a rather optimistic statement. I can just see some poor incoming sophomore causing a scene in their counselor’s office at UMass:

“What do you mean Intro to Malevolent Soul Transference doesn’t qualify as an applied science credit! I can tell you that it sure felt “applied” when I was immersed in the sulfurous breath of the unholy masses while attempting to disrupt a Polynesian radish curse!”

I was somewhat disappointed that Pastor Bob didn’t elaborate on the singular effectiveness of teenage girls on satanic minions. Is it their innate spiritual perceptiveness? Do their nurturing predispositions exude a child-like innocence impenetrable by the forces of darkness? The cynical might suspect Bob is simply leveraging attractive young women to increase his media exposure, and by extension, his income; but I choose to believe that he has discovered an exorcism loophole overlooked by the Catholic Church.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Pastor Bob’s empire would have to be the “Cross of Deliverance”. The website features unattributed testimonials such as ““My wife was ill. When I touched her with the Cross I got at Bob’s seminar, she was completely healed!” While the site does not provide specific details concerning the wife’s affliction, I naturally assumed that he was referring to explosive diarrhea. While some might consider $100 excessive for a novelty crucifix, it isn’t every day that one gets an opportunity to procure an item that can claim to be instantly “recognized in Hell”.

While it is tempting to dismiss Larson’s school as the mechanisms of a practiced charlatan, Americans have spent several thousand dollars on less marketable skills than exorcism (Hospitality Management Degrees, Frasier trivia, etc ). And, if their theories of demonic transmission are correct, there should be no shortage of clientele in the foreseeable future. Pastor Bob just better hope one of his teen angels doesn’t get caught rounding second base with some random guy at a screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or all that notoriety he has cultivated could backfire.

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