This article by Alan Fyfe originally appeared in the Perth Voice Australia published by Freemantle Herald and can be viewed here.
Young Perth girls suffering from eating disorders may soon be referred to a Christian counselling group whose treatment allegedly involves exorcism.
Mercy Ministries’ online newsletter confirms it has bought a property in Mt Helena “30 minutes from the Perth CBD” to accommodate up to 30 women.
A Queensland centre run by the organisation has been closed after its methods were made public by the Mercy Survivors group and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is investigating at the urging of Australian Democrats Senator Lyn Allison.
In Federal Parliament the Senator questioned whether “treating young women for drug addiction and psychological disorders by using prayer, exorcisms and Pentecostal religion is appropriate and whether or not some misleading and deceptive behaviour might be going on.”
Though Mercy Ministries’ website advertises the treatment as a free service, Senator Allison also claimed Centrelink payments to the centre’s clients [were] going directly to the church group.
Perth Mercy survivor Naomi Johnson spent time at the organisation’s Sydney home and said she was given a “separation contract” to sign that discouraged her from contacting friends and family. Counselling consisted of “repeating pre-scripted prayers, bible reading and Joyce Meyer tape series,: Ms Johnson said.
“Unconditional love was replaced with judgement and condemnation, support was replaced with control, freedom with more fear and shame,: Ms Johnson said.
She also said Mercy’s methods only exacerbated her condition because of the high level of stress she was under.
Another Mercy survivor, who didn’t want to be named, also claimed counselling was based on scripture, prayer, and exorcism rather than treatment by accredited health professionals. A copy of the Restoring the Foundations handbook used by Mercy Ministries and seen by The Voice details methods for “deliverance” from “demonic oppression” and “what to do with obstinate demons.”
“Every girl who has been at Mercy Ministries in Australia has had Restoring the Foundations used on them. That was the only counselling. There was no other counselling.” the survivor said.
Gloria Jeans Coffee, Megachurch Hillsong, and Perth’s Riverview Church raise funds for Mercy Ministries, with Riverview listing the organisation as a partner on its website. The website calls for financial partners for the Perth home and claims that ” we are looking forward to opening a third home in Perth in the not too distant future.”
“If they are trying to open up here, where not many people know about them, we have to stop them,” Ms Johnson said.
Mercy Ministries declined to comment.