Dial 1 For Exorcisms, Dial 2 For…

And speaking of the pope, have you heard about this? There is now a hotline that you can call in Italy in case you need the Church to perform an exorcism, or at least check it out.

The Catholic Church has established an exorcist hotline in Milan, its biggest diocese, to cope with demand. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, the diocese’s chief exorcist since 1995, said the curia had also appointed twice as many exorcists to cope with a doubling in the number of requests for help over 15 years.

At least one exorcist in the Milan diocese is taking up to 120 requests a day! Meaning he has to travel to up to 120 different homes to do absolutely nothing. According to Mascheroni, he really ought to be doing nothing in only two to four homes every day.

And it’s not just me that is saying that they’re doing nothing. According to the Monsignor, most of the calls are to help deal with rebellious teenagers who don’t want to go to school or are doing drugs or talking back.

Now, I ask you, what sort of culture is growing in Milan that teenagers rebelling is considered demonic possession?

Well, likely one like they have in Nigeria where the AP has found nearly 200 cases of children being accused of witchcraft, about half of those being related to Christian preachers making the accusations.

The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.

This is not uncommon, and there is very little daylight between the idea that you can kick the demons out of your rebellious teen with a phone call and that you should just skip the middle man and set them on fire yourself.

There are no such things as demons. There have never been such a thing as demons. They are a relic of an age that didn’t understand mental illness. Now it’s used by parents who no longer want to have to deal with their child, either trying to get them to school in Milan or trying to feed them in Nigeria.

Encouraging this sort of nonsense is dangerous, and the Church needs to stop making it easier for people to believe in ghosties, ghoulies, and long-legged beasties because it logically follows that if there are demons that can invade us, then any child may be casting black magic and causing X bad thing to happen, and if there are magic spells that can drive these creatures out, then there’s no reason to not accept that I can drive them out my way. It’s not like the Rite of Exorcism is evidently true or has more observational support than, say, cutting your child’s neck open.

There are no such things as demons, and these games that people play to assign blame to natural forces, be they droughts or teenage rebellion, lead to people getting hurt for no reason. Let’s take the first step toward rationality and just admit that there are no demons. It’s so simple, but it may eventually give people pause before they starve their child to death to stop them from casting spells on the village.

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