Anorak | Teen Exorcists: Bob Larson, Margaret Thatcher and hunting Satan for Jesus in London

Teen Exorcists: Bob Larson, Margaret Thatcher and hunting Satan for Jesus in London

by | 15th, September 2013

thatcher devil satan

A COUPLE of nights ago, BBC3 (the network’s “youth channel”) broadcast Dan Murdoch‘s observational documentary Teen Exorcists , the latest example of media fascination with Brynne Larson and her two friends Brynne Tess and Savannah Scherkenback, writes Richard Bartholomew The trio  come across as personable, good humoured, and bright yet they are committed to the beliefs and worldview expounded by Brynne’s father  Bob Larson , a man who has been a familiar figure in US media for years with extravagant tales of Satanic cults and of exorcising thousands of people who he says have been spiritually oppressed by demonic powers.

The programme showed us the Larsons’ (rather plush) home in Scottsdale, and the three young women in action at services in Pasadena and at a New Generation church in Pershotravensk, Ukraine, but for the most part the documentary is about a mission trip to London. Highlights include a conversation with a bemused elderly church guide at  Waltham Abbey ; a goth teenager being cajoled into sheepishly smashing up his self-made ouija board; and two case studies. The first of these was a troubled woman who believed that she had come under a black magic curse after eating a pie; she went away unsatisfied after Bob failed to induce any of the screams and convulsions that are associated with his exorcisms, and declined to pay the suggested £200 donation. The second woman, a former Anglican chaplain, kept closer to the script by manifesting a demon that claims to have been attached to her for seventeen generations due to withcraft.

The BBC Magazine has an in-depth summary here, and several newspapers carried articles about the show ahead of the broadcast; the girls’ view that spells featured in the Harry Potter stories are real and Satanic provided the lead-in for a piece by Rebecca Seales in the Daily Mail , while the  Express   came up with  the prurient “The Sexorcists: These girls have been busy casting out STDs (Sexually Transmitted Demons)” as the headline for an article by Jon Coates. The  Daily Mirror ‘s Francesca Cookney, meanwhile, carried out spin-off investigation  into  Vincent ten Bouwhuis , whose London “Amazing Grace” church is affiliated with Larson’s  Spiritual Freedom church grouping and appears in the programme. Larson and the trio’s exploits in Ukraine were covered by  Vice   in July .

Bob Larson, as ever, came across as a showman who pays close attention to branding; his church’s slogan is “DWJD” – “Do What Jesus Did”, referring to the role of Jesus as exorcist in the Bible – and he wields a distinctive ornamental cross. This cross, along with his clerical garb and dog collar, appear to be a pastiche of Roman Catholicism, but it all plays into the popular image of what an exorcist should look like. Larson’s background is actually in neo-Pentecostalism: according to a footnote in Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott’s Selling Satan   (1), back in the 1960s he ran an “Action Center” for  Morris Cerullo .

In 1971, according to Hertenstein and Trott, Cerullo created an “anti-occult ministry” with Mike Warnke and David Balsiger (2); Balsiger ghosted Warnke’s bogus Satan Seller  ex-Satanist memoir, and Larson was among those who came to Warnke’s defence when the book was comprehensively debunked (3). Larson himself wrote a novel,  Dead Air , which purported to be based on true events involving Satanism, although the publisher (Thomas Nelson) removed this claim when asked to provide evidence. The novel was somewhat odd Christian reading,

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Posted: 15th, September 2013 | In: Strange But True, TV & Radio Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink