It happened again. Occasionally one hears of an exorcism gone wrong. Usually, it occurs in countries with an African population, like England, where some immigrants influenced by witchcraft try to drive out demons physically. This time an errant exorcism happened at a Hispanic church in San Jose, California. A 25-year-old mother, Claudia Hernandez, has been charged with murder. Authorities claim that that she tried to drive demons out of her three-year-old daughter by choking her and withholding food from the child. The mom admitted that she had tried to squeeze the demons out. Claudia’s pastor-father assisted in the exorcism, though he hasn’t been charged yet.
How did they determine that the child had a demon? According to the mother, the little girl would wake up screaming and crying. Someone in the family, it’s not clear who, determined that this was the work of evil spirits. Weirdly, after the child’s death the family held a Disney-themed funeral for her. The mother posted on social media about the death, “I am happy. I am at peace.” Obviously, the police thought otherwise, and I agree.
Our Do What Jesus Did deliverance teams are required to go by specific ethical guidelines. One might pray gently over a child if spiritual oppression is suspected, but never exercise physical brutality to expel a demon. Any kind of prayer over an infant should be gentle and with great caution to not upset a little one. Whether intended or not, this incident was thoughtless, unbiblical, and abusive. And it was murder to some degree.
Here are three ways to avoid a tragedy like this:
#1-The presence of a demon must NEVER be determined ONLY by subjective criteria. Telling someone they have a demon because their actions are suspicious, or they exhibit abnormal behavior is wrong. That is why our International School of Exorcism teaches you must make every effort to make the demons speak. That is the one sure way to know that someone has a demon. The cry of a child is not a sufficient indication.
#2–Demons are spiritual beings and can’t be driven out physically. No amount of pushing, shoving, hitting, or infliction of pain of the host’s body will cast out a demon. Demons only respond to pain when it is spiritually inflicted, such as with a Bible, cross, or anointing oil. But that is a spiritual act. Strangling a child on the pretext of deliverance is abuse, not exorcism.
#3–Demons leave because they dread the name of Jesus. They do not fear human exertion to resist them. We sometimes need to physically restrain a person for the safety of those involved in an exorcism. But that is a defensive action not an offensive assault. A biblically legitimate exorcist knows that it is what he says by the power of the Holy Spirit, not what he exerts by physical maltreatment that drives out demons.
My prayer is that the mother and grandfather of this dead child will see the error of their actions and repent. So far, they are hiding behind a cloak of religion which makes matters worse. It also empowers the spirit of Jezebel who likely orchestrated this spiritual catastrophe. It is imperative that those of us who do REAL deliverance do more than ever to set people truly free. Then the real deal will be witnessed and exorcism by affliction will be discredited!