Many conservative Christians believe that demons sometimes:
Some conservative Christians believe that the gods and goddesses worshiped by followers of non-Christian religions are actually Satan himself or his demons. Most conservative Christians also believe that persons can be possessed by demons.
When a person is possessed, they are believed to exhibit a unique personality - that of the indwelling evil spirit. The demon will sometimes speak through that individual's vocal chords, often in a language unknown to the person and in a strange inflection. They can sometimes cause schizophrenia, depression, mental instabilities, suicidal thoughts, or MPD/DID. The standard treatment for a demonically possessed person is to drive out the demon(s) by an exorcism ritual.
Often, the person is believed to be possessed by a single demon. However, in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), Mark 5:9 relates how a person was controlled by many demons:
A legion in the army of ancient Rome was composed of 6,000 men!
Multiple possession is seen by many conservative Protestants as a cause of MPD/DID; to some it is the main or only cause. They often believe that if a person engages in occult experiences, then "points of contact or entanglement with demonic entities" will occur, and "malevolent spiritual entities" (demons) can infiltrate their mind and body. Engaging in occultic activity, or even allowing a non-Christian religious symbol into their home is often referred to as "opening a doorway in their life" through which Satan or one of his demons can enter. Under these conditions, Satan is often referred to as "having a legal right" to possess the individual or a member of their family.
Demonically - Mediated Dissociation (DMD):
Rex W. Rosenberg, a conservative Christian clinical psychologist who has specialized in MPD, believes that such infiltration can lead to what he calls "demonically - mediated dissociation" (DMD). He asserts that therapists will detect in their clients both the presence of alters, (some of whom will have demonic attachments) and of demons (some of whom will be disguised as alters.) Much harm can be done to the patient if the exact nature of the entities is not precisely determined and matching treatment applied. 1
He has created an experimental "Occult Activities and Manifestations Survey" 2 that an individual can use to detect their degree of involvement with the occult. He lists 96 experiences or manifestations of occult activity e.g. seeing monsters, seeing fairies, being unable to read or understand the Bible, having demonic sexual intercourse with a woman. He also lists 79 occultic activities and organizations e.g. tarot cards, Ouija board, I Ching, palm or tea-leaf reading, biorhythm charts, casting runes, numerology; Christian Science, Eckankar, Hare Krishna, Santeria, Scientology, Unification Church, Witchcraft/Wicca.
Comments by Bob Larson:
Bob Larson of Bob Larson Ministries, a fundamentalist counter-cult and anti-Occult group, stresses the importance of accurately diagnosing whether the victim has a group of alter personalities; or is possessed by evil, demonic spirits; or is suffering from a combination of the two. He explains that:
Accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment are very important, to prevent the victim's condition from degenerating.
Other Christian beliefs and practices:
Many conservative Christian faith groups believe that a "born-again" believer cannot be possessed by a demon. The rationale most often given is that when a person is "saved", they are filled with Holy Spirit. Thus Satan or a demon cannot also enter their body. However, those who are born again represent a small percentage of the total human population. Demons are thus seen as free to posses many billions of individuals.
The Roman Catholic church has similar beliefs and also uses exorcism rituals. However, the practice is strictly controlled. Church law requires a direct order "of the bishop, after two careful investigations, based on positive indications that possession is in fact present." 3
Among conservative Protestantism, there are a number of ministries which specialize in exorcisms. Other rituals are done informally by clergy and laity. 4
There are at least two serious concerns about the use of exorcisms:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.