Friday, June 26, 2009

Gay exorcism video abuse or freedom of religion

The video that shows an apparent gay exorcism is making a stir and causing a debate across the nation. The Bridgeport, Connecticut based church, Manifested Glory Ministries, was performing the exorcism or casting out demons from a 16 year old boy who had, according to church apostle Patricia McKinney, wanted deliverance from dressing like a girl.

Speaking with the Associated Press, Rev. Patricia McKinneystated, "We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man. We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle." McKinney also stated the teen came to them for the casting out services, they didn't approach him. In the video you can see the boy thrashing around, and at one point he vomits. For those who believe in deliverance ministry, these manifestations are attributed to the expelling of demons.

However, the debate between those who believe that homosexuality is caused by demons and those who believe you are born that way has come full swing, as the video makes its way across the net. The question is whether freedom of religion allows for deliverance or ‘exorcism’ practices to occur, and if so, should they occur without the oversight of the government. If freedom of religion does allow churches to practice exorcisms, should there be a waiver or signature required? Should children be involved in exorcisms according to the faith of their parents? What age should one be to give legal consent to an exorcism?

The practice of exorcism or casting out demons is prevalent throughout the New Testament. Jesus cast demons out of a man referred to as “Legion” due to the fact that he was possessed with a “legion or more” demons. The Bible also teaches that true believers in Christ will cast out demons. If the teaching of exorcism and deliverance is protected by the freedom of religion, then when, and under what circumstances does it become abusive?

Robin McHaelen, director of Truce Colors stated to the Associated Press, "I think it's horrifying. What saddens me is the people that are doing this think they are doing something in the kid's best interests, when in fact they're murdering his spirit."

When one group is advocating the acceptance of gay youth, and the other end of the spectrum refers to homosexuality as the work of demons, there is sure to be extreme conflict across the divide.

If teens are allowed the freedom to choose the gay or lesbian lifestyle, then aren’t those same teens allowed the freedom of religion to engage in an exorcism? If that teen believes that he or she is possessed, wouldn’t freedom of religion allow that teen to enter into an exorcism if he or she chooses to? And if so, at what age would be appropriate for a child or teen to exercise their free will and engage in an exorcism?

Exorcism continues throughout many churches world wide. It is a practice that is in many faiths across the globe. If one person believes that the gay and lesbian lifestyle is biological, does that negate another person’s right to believe that it is a choice, or demonically inspired? Does freedom of religion allow a church the right to conduct exorcisms in the way they see fit, provided the participants are willing and no physical harm comes to the person? According to documented cases of exorcisms, mainly through the Catholic church, exorcism is not a pretty sight.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out. Mainly because the person being exorcised was a teen. If the Connecticut Department of Children and Families comes to the aid of a child being persecuted for openly displaying their gay or lesbian belief, should they come to the rescue of a child who is trying to change his or her behavior? Can a child participate in a 'casting out of spirits service' if they choose? Does a child have a right to pursue a homosexual or lesbian path, but not one that tries to change that behavior, and if not, who decides?

If the exorcism was performed against the teen’s will, or wishes, it would be an obvious sign of abuse. Until we hear from the teen himself, and see if the Connecticut Department of Childrens and Families follows up with the case, we might not know the full scale of the story.

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