The Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) would have you believe that sleeping with your feet facing south is not good for you. It all seems like silly nonsense until you discover that they also believe that as many as 85% of gay people are actually possessed by the ghosts of the opposite gender, which is why they are attracted to people of the same gender.
A number of people have shared this with me because at first glance it seems like the sort of bullshit that’s so absurd that it’s hilarious.
Only it isn’t. Because do you know what religious organisations who think people are possessed often do? They conduct an exorcism and this is can be harmful. In fact, people have died during exorcisms because people believed that a demon or spirit was possessing them when, in reality, the symptoms they were displaying may have been a result of underlying mental or physical health conditions. Conditions including (but not limited to) schizophrenia, mania, psychosis, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy and hysteria.
In cases of disassociative personality disorder in which the alter-personality is questioned as to its identity, 29% are reported to identify themselves as demons (Erlendsson, 2003). Yet, quite alarmingly, you don’t even have to exhibit symptoms of what some would consider demonic possession to be the victim of an exorcism – in many insular migrant communities it isn’t uncommon for a minister to point out a member of the congregation and announce that they are under the influence of evil forces – the shame this brings about results in that person or their family handing over money so that an exorcism may rid them of this. Popular in evangelical African churches, these rituals are open to abuse and can lead to the mistreatment of the most vulnerable in society (children and the mentally ill, for example.)
‘The girl, now 10 years old, was cut with a knife, beaten with a belt and had chilli peppers rubbed in her eyes to “beat the devil out of her”‘ BBC News
Claiming that gay people are possessed is irresponsible and hugely ignorant. In some parts of this world, people are killed for being LGBTQ, they are taken to religious conversion therapists in the hope that “the gay” can be prayed away or so that they can undergo bogus electro-shock therapy, and they are also subject to exorcist practices because some people don’t just think ghosts are possessing a gay person but demons are.
On their Youtube channel the SSRF share such videos as this:
Anybody claiming that people are possessed is wrong to do so and are likely to do harm to those they come into contact with when making these claims. Many jokes have been made on social media about this group and their claim that gay people are possessed by ghosts, but the reality of such beliefs is an ugly one and a common one and the practices that go along with them are done behind closed doors where those most at risk are isolated.
They claim that “due to being possessed by ghosts, the majority of the LGBT population is more susceptible to being influenced by negative energies who give them thoughts to encourage them to display their homosexuality in a shameless and even aggressive manner.”
This includes taking part in LGTB Pride events because they “emit negative energy for up to 10 km. Indirectly, black covering (negative energy) over the city increases and it subtly spreads farther than 10 km.”
“Just as we teach children not to play in dirty water or eat mud, we need to educate society what is correct from a spiritual perspective. By failing to do so, we run the risk of a further decline in Righteousness and consequently people in society will become more unhappy.”
They also list other symptoms of possession, such as the inability to conceive, recurring miscarriages, stillbirth, anxiety, depression, fear, mental illness, suicidal thoughts and more. This is the frightening reality of evangelical spiritual belief and why it’s important to call out nonsense when we see it. Not because it’s silly and easy to mock but because it’s incredibly dangerous.
Erlendsson, H. (2003) ‘Multiple Personality Disorder – Demons and Angels or Archetypal aspects of the inner self’, , Royal College of Psychiatrists [Online]. Available at http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/erlendsson_01_jun_03.pdf (Accessed 8 December 2016)