Exorcisms should be banned by the Church of England and only allowed to happen in movies, say campaigners.
They claim traumatising children by telling them they are possessed by a demon is “inherently abusive”.
And the laying on of hands to drive out the devil also leaves the church exposed to sex abuse allegations, they say. Dr Alejan-dro Sanchez, campaigns officer at the National Secular Society, said the Church of England has 44 exorcists – each appointed by the Archbishop Of Canterbury.
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Yet he insisted there was no scientific evidence that exorcism actually works.
He said the practice should be reserved for the likes of film-maker William Friedkin, who directed 1973 classic The Exorcist and died this week aged 87.
Dr Sanchez said: “The Church of England practises a ‘deliverance ministry’ to this day.
“The Church’s 2023 guidance allows parents to consent to ‘formal rites of deliverance’ for their children ‘including those involving touch’.”
He added: “Traumatising a child by telling them they are possessed with a demon and that a priest needs to touch them to cast the demon out is surely inherently abusive.”
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It comes after a pastor claimed exorcisms could be "accidentally helping the Devil".
US preacher Dan Delzell said the 400 acknowledged exorcists around the world who perform rituals to exorcise the Devil are unknowingly 'spreading the doctrines of demons'.
He reckons that real life demon-bashers may think they are driving out evil, but they could actually be “a useful weapon in Satan's arsenal”.
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Pastor Delzell, of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska, US, said their seemingly good deeds won't necessarily get them into heaven.
He said they may be tempted to assume that doing helpful things for others justifies them before God and earns them entrance into Heaven.
“But nothing could be further from the truth,” he added. “`No-one gets into Heaven by being an exorcist, but only by repenting of your sins and trusting Jesus to wash you clean with the blood he lovingly shed for you on the cross".
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