Exorcism is the practice of evicting or destroying spiritual entities. The actual existence of spirits is a matter much religious debate, but in most cultures where such things are believed in, exorcism is also a part of the belief system. The person performing the exorcism is said to be an exorcist.
In some parts of Christianity, demons are said to be able to possess humans. In order to force the demon to leave the body of the victim, an exorcism is performed.
At places where belief in ghosts prevail, a ghost can be driven from a haunt (often a house, manor or castle) by an exorcism.
The exorcist is often a member of the local clergy, thought to be able to assail the spirits with divine help, or a magician of some sort.
In the past eight years, there have been at least five exorcism-related deaths in the United States:
- Kyung-A Ha was beaten to death in 1995 in San Francisco, California by members of the Jesus-Amen Ministries.
- Kyung Jae Chung died in 1996 in Glendale, California from blunt-force trauma by her husband (a reverend) and members of the Glendale Korean Methodist Church.
- A five-year-old girl in 1997 in the Bronx, New York, dies after being administered ammonia, vinegar, and olive oil, and then gagged and bound with duct tape.
- Charity Miranda, suffocated with a plastic bag in 1998 in Sayville, New York by her mother and sister.
- Terrance Cottrll, Jr, an eight-year-old autistic child, died of asphyxiation in 2003 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during an exorcism carried out by members of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith.
For a discussion of the validity of possession, see Spiritual possession
For a broader discussion of demonic activity and Christians, see spiritual warfare.
Film: The Exorcist (1973), and its sequels.