"When Sherri roared like a bull, rolled her eyes into her skull, and lunged against the three men who were holding her, Bob Larson says he saw the devil. He should know. Larson is one of the leading practitioners of modern, Christian exorcisms, and here I was in a hotel conference room in Tulsa, Oklahoma, right across from Oral Roberts University, watching him wrestle with demons.
"Larson performs his exorcisms in rooms full of people – sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands. One religious scholar says 600 Protestant churches have established what they call Redemption Ministries in recent years, which feature exorcisms or something like them.
"At the heart of all this is a basic belief that demons are real and move among us, inhabiting people’s bodies and driving them to all manner of bad behavior.
"On this night, as Larson stood with his Bible in hand and called out demons, a half-dozen people howled, cried, and bellowed in strange voices, while he ordered their possessors back into the pit of hell.
"I am naturally skeptical of things that cannot be proven, so I had to ask: Is all this just a show?
"Larson and the folks he confronted say absolutely not. Larson freely admits he has been called a charlatan, a flimflam man, and a snake-oil salesman. But he clearly has legions of followers – people who believe exorcism can help them in the eternal battle between heaven and hell. Sherri says she feels a great weight was lifted from her through the experience.
“So what do you think: Are modern exorcisms a legitimate religious practice or spiritual vaudeville?”