The Exorcist

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So I met the guy who calls himself an exorcist. Bob Larson has done, by his estimation, more than 10,000 exorcisms around the world. Now he's set up a church in the Phoenix area, it's called The Spiritual Freedom Church.

That's where we met Larson to talk about exorcisms, the devil and other not so light-hearted topics. He was much like I expected, very confident and unwavering in his conviction that the devil does exist. In fact, he says half the population has demons.

Of course, over the years, I have seen stories about exorcisms. And who hasn't seen or heard of the 1970's flick starring Linda Blair. But really -- is it possible that so many people are possessed? I never really gave it much thought. Before now.

I did hours of research and interviews only to discover that there are thousands of people who do indeed feel that they have the devil inside. Larson says it's because "the western world has lost its moral compass". He points to crime rates, specifically sexual molestation and rape, as the driving force behind his booming exorcism "business". Better than 50% of the people who come to see him, he says, have been the victim of sexual abuse.

My question is: Is it really a demon or is it depression? Is it an overwhelming feeling of negative energy and sadness that you just can't get rid of? Would these people be better off in therapy than seeking exorcisms at Larson's Spiritual Freedom Church? They don't think so.

When we attended Bob Larson's service on Saturday night, he performed several exorcisms. I was struck by a man named Brett. He seemed so desperate to get rid of his pain. But was it really the devil? He thought it was and so the exorcism took place. When it was finally finished (it took a long time and was extremely hard to watch), Brett said he felt tremendous relief... like a weight had been lifted.

I don't know if Brett got rid of his demons that day. We will have to do a follow up story to find out. But the whole thing does make you wonder: What are we doing wrong, collectively as a society, if so many people feel the need to take such extreme measures in an effort to find peace?

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