"Demons are like little yappy dogs – you gotta be firm with them!"

This article originally appeared in The Freethinker and can be viewed here.

MERCY Ministries, according to Wikipedia:

“Is an international Christian charitable organisation that offers a long-term Christian residential treatment programme for young women “who struggle with various issues, including mental illnesses such as eating disorders, mood disorders, self-harm, and substance addiction and the affects of abuse.”

And how does this treatment work?  Why, by exorcising “demons” who possess the victims, of course.

But MM’s former head honcho in Australia, Peter Irvine, earlier this year vigorously denied that exorcism was used on vulnerable females. He said in a TV interview:

“There’s no exorcism, no driving out of spirits  – it’s not how the programme works.”

He has now been exposed as a liar.

Handbooks allegedly used to perform exorcisms on women at the controversial Mercy Ministries residences in Sydney and on the Sunshine Coast have come into possession this week of Australia’s LiveNews . The handbooks corroborate accounts given to Live News by former residents of Mercy Ministries.

Mercy Ministries’ activities first hit the headlines in March this year when former residents claimed they were subjected to exorcisms, were cut off from friends and family and had to sign their Centrelink welfare payments over to the group.

Some of the young women said they had little or no access to the promised psychologists and other mental health professionals, but were instead counselled by bible studies students whose solution to all problems was prayer.

Nearly a third of Mercy Ministries residents in Australia have made complaints of mistreatment.

In the handbook, under a section entitled “Identifying Additional Demons” those practising the exorcism are advised to ask the demon’s name, but not for any more details.

“They sometimes talk: they may threaten the person or you. They have been know to say, “I am going to kill you”, and other unsavoury phrases. Command them to be quiet in the Name of Jesus.”

According to the handbook:

“The minister’s attitude is one of commanding. He needs to be firm and prepared to press in. He does not need to be loud.  (Demons are not deaf.)  The ministers’ commanding attitude resembles that of a person speaking to a little “yappy” dog commanding him to go home and stop barking.

We also want the ministry receiver to set his will to resist and then command the particular demon or grouping of demons to leave him, in Jesus’ name. This is repeated until the demons are gone.”

Later in the book, those performing the exorcism are given more complex techniques in a subheading called “What to do With Obstinate Demons”. Later a list of ‘Scriptures that Demons Hate’ is provided.

Mercy Ministries was founded in Monroe, Lousiana in 1983 by fundie nutjob, Nancy Alcorn who claims that Mercy’s approach is superior to conventional psychology, which often relies on psychotropic medication.  She says that girls with issues like sexual promiscuity or eating disorders have opened themselves up to demonic activity.

Secular psychiatrists want to medicate things like that. But Jesus didn’t say to medicate demons, he said to cast them out.

It will come as no surprise that the organisation is homophobic.

Former resident Naomi Johnson has gone on record as saying that all residents, regardless of their reason for entering the programme, were repeatedly made to watch educational videos from “ex-gay” spokesperson Sy Rodgers, and that they were also issued what staff referred to as “separation contracts” to prevent any close emotional or lesbian relationships from forming between residents.

Mercy Ministries was founded in Monroe, Lousiana in 1983 by fundie nutjob, Nancy Alcorn who claims that Mercy’s approach is superior to conventional psychology, which often relies on psychotropic medication. She says that girls with issues like sexual promiscuity or eating disorders have opened themselves up to demonic activity.

“Secular psychiatrists want to medicate things like that. But Jesus didn’t say to medicate demons, he said to cast them out.”

Alcorn has stated that Mercy Ministries welcomes girls who are “struggling with their sexual orientation”, but in an March 18, 2008, interview, Irvine insisted that:

“Mercy Ministries does not target any group, including the gay community, and does not have an anti-gay programme.”

Written By Mercy Survivors

Support for survivors of Mercy Ministries