The Exor-Sisters!

In the “I guess everyone needs a hobby” department, I give to you Savannah Scherkenback, Tess Scherkenback, and Brynne Larson:  three beautiful young ladies trained by Brynne’s father to rid the world of the demonic influences of Satan and his minions, one lost soul at a time.

This looks like the promo shot for a bad Lifetime series.

I recommend you take a look at the videos, especially the second one.  It’s some pretty weird shit.  There they are, in the Ukraine, with Pastor Bob Larson whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the help of a translator, when all of a sudden a handful of “possessed” people come shambling forward.  It reminds me of some of the old movies with the snake oil salesmen.  Right after the guy on the stage finishes his pitch, there’s always a few people who come up and try the product, praising its miraculous efficacy only moments later.  Whether the people in this crowd worked with him and the sisters, or whether they are so thoroughly entrenched in their belief that they are convinced they truly are possessed, I don’t know.  What I do know is that these folks could probably use a little medical and psychological consultation before assuming there’s demons about.

Brynne’s mother Laura Larson, says the girls are sincerely trying to help people.

“This is a family who lives by what they believe,” says Laura, “and I think the teenage exorcists are making a difference, whether you believe in what they do or not, they are committed and they stand by what they believe.”

Am I the only one who looks at that kind of reasoning and thinks to himself, “who the hell cares??”  What difference does it make that these kids share “strongly held beliefs”, and that they’re committed to them?  It doesn’t make them any less delusional or the basis of their life’s calling any less nonsensical?  If I had a strongly held belief that the Daedric Princes from the world of the Elder Scrolls series were real … so much so that I spent my life’s savings to set up a shrine to Azura in my back yard … does the fact that I am truly convinced of their existence take away from the fact that I’m flat wrong?

The young women’s mentor, Brynne’s father, disagrees with critics who say it’s dangerous to teach teenagers to perform exorcisms.

“We think it’s OK to train teenagers to get drunk and have sex, but to do moral things for God, oh let’s not train them to do that,” says Larson.

I hope he doesn’t mean comprehensive sex education.  That’s at least evidence-based and a proven way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of disease … as opposed to the teaching that demons can enter the body and cause all sorts of bad juju because an old book had stories about them.  We weren’t, however, ever taught to drink or get drunk.  Maybe “Getting Shit Faced 101″ was an honors course?  I had to settle for numerous independent studies during my college years and between semesters.

Pro tip:  do laundry first, then get drunk.  I know what I’m talking about.

[Pastor Bob] asks for a voluntary donation of a couple of hundred dollars or pounds when he and the girls perform a one-to-one exorcism, and rejects the idea that spiritual services have to be free of charge.

“The average megachurch pastor in America, it’s not uncommon for them to make up to $1m a year. Well I can assure you we are nowhere near that.”

A few hundred dollars per private session?  That’s it … I’m going to become a traveling exorcist.  All I need to do is make sure I’m in the right part of the country and they’ll probably come pouring in.

Here’s the funny thing, too … I’m convinced that what they’re doing has no basis in scientific fact.  BUT … the people who come to them are so thoroughly convinced of their possession that the only thing that’s likely to help them in the short term is someone like Brynne and her buddies.  For the long term, I’d suggest therapy, but I’m forced to admit that there’s definitely a market for treating fictional illnesses with fictional cures.

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10 Responses to The Exor-Sisters!

  1. Charity says:

    Oh my, I should have known Bob Larson had some sort of connection. I’m trying to figure out when he started to wear a collar. If I remember right, back in the early 90s he’d often lump martial arts with witchcraft, demonic lyrics in rock music and sorcery in fiction. Interesting, I guess he doesn’t believe that anymore.

    If there is anything more emotionally, and mentally damaging than religion, I would have to say it’s exorcisms/deliverances.

    My parents, yes them, of all people were training with a lady named Ruth Cornforth back in the 70s in the deliverance ministry. I remember seeing her spiral bound manual “The Children’s Bread” around the house when I was a kid.

    I remember a meeting in Peterborough,England where I ministered with others back in 2002 a disturbing scene. There was this young woman there in our series of services who spent one full night going through this. I was busy praying and shouting and whatever else and honestly don’t remember how it began. She was making herself puke the whole time. It got to the point where she would just stand in the middle of the crowd bombarded with ministers and force herself to hurl with a bucket in tow. You know how you know you ate something horrible and if you would just puke you’d feel better? That’s what it reminded me of. There was another American woman at the meeting and she and I came from the same Assembly of God church. I remember her and I having an issue with the ministers not taking the woman to a backroom, so to not draw attention to herself. See the AG church somewhat prides itself in being the couture denomination of Pentecostals, for the most part. I remember one minister telling the crowd that “Jesus didn’t go to the back to perform deliverances, he did them right in the open in front of everyone and we will too!”

    It’s like Debbie mentioned on her blog not long ago. If you’re a Christian you more than likely serve two gods, God and the Devil. She’s right. Did you hear how those girls prayed before they went horseback riding? There was much more emphasis placed on fear than love. That’s acknowledging the Devil more than God if you were to look at it from a Christian theological stand point.

    Been there, done that and have no desire to ever, ever go back. I love being an atheist, good times!

    • I always love your replies, though it pains me to think there’s so much of this you can relate to from direct experience. I see what you mean about their prayer before the horseback ride. In my view, it also sounds like they’re treating God as just some giant wishing well. I feel like when they go home to make lunch, they’re going to pray beforehand that they don’t slip on the floor, cut themselves with a knife while slicing the bread, or end up sick as a result of some bad cold cuts. The point (and yours) is that they focus so much more on any and all potential obstacles than on love. How do they respond when they *do* face the inevitable snake, ATV, horse, or pedestrian? It’s not as if it’s never going to happen. The only difference in their case is that they’ll interpret the event as either some sort of lesson given to them by God, or as a blow dealt to them by Satan.

      Meanwhile the rest of us see it as just some guy going for a walk who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s life.

      I’m glad that you’ve left that entire world behind you. Atheism doesn’t always provide the comfort that the presence of some invisible loving being can sometimes, but it’s a lot less prone to convince people to speak in tongues, handle poisonous snakes, or convince themselves we’re all in battle with invisible demons trying to sabotage our every move. There’s also less vomiting … which is always good.

      • Charity says:

        Hello, Jason, as I told Debbie, the anger is dwindling. Now I can actually look at videos like those two clips without crying or getting mad. I can stand back and tell you how sneaky their “ministry” is. As I’ve mentioned to Debbie and Victoria, exorcisms/deliverances simply are intended for victims of abuse, severe neglect, rape and terminal diseases. Ministers who do this are focusing on the weak because they’re the most vulnerable and the most wounded. They’re all miserable and will do anything for help. They’re also the easiest to take advantage of because they’re already so beaten down by life. I told Debbie that you won’t find anyone exercising demons out of rapists, murderers, child abusers or wife beaters. If so, it’s EXTREMELY rare. Women, teens and children are their main targets.

        • Faith healers of any brand are all the same. Those folks selling crystals, homeopathic “remedies”, DNA activation, or anything with the words “energy” or “modality” in the name are in the game for the same reason: to prey on people who are so desperate that they’re willing to go anywhere and do anything to make the pain stop.

          My solution for all of these people: clinical tests and peer review. Then we’ll talk.

  2. This is some crazy, sh*t. If you really want to tour the country as an exorcist, Jason, you could down to the southern states where Charity and I live!

    • Charity says:

      Yes, I agree with Debbie, I thought the clips they showed were kind of mild myself.

    • We can be a team! You and Charity can be my plants. I’ll be up on stage, shouting something about God, vengeance, brimstone, fire, etc. When I give the signal, pop an Alka Seltzer tab so you start foaming at the mouth, and then make your way up to the front while shouting a few choice lines in ancient Aramaic you’ve managed to commit to memory.

      I’ve given this too much thought already :-)

      • Charity says:

        No foaming or vomiting necessary, I’ll just spit and yell obscenities instead. Cursing loudly in Church sounds like fun to me. How often is it that a person can yell “Fuck you!” during a service and it’s excused? Exactly! :)

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