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.
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 broader discussion of demonic activity and Christians, see spiritual warfare.
Film: The Exorcist (1973), and its sequels.