Religious group awaits resurrection

Sunday Star-Times/January 7, 2001

Dressed in white with a silver whistle draped around his neck, Luke Lee purses his lips, excuses himself and blows abruptly into his whistle. Demons are in the air, he announces. He flashes a quick grin before answering questions.

From inside his modest Mt Roskill home, dull chanting rings out from members of his Lord Of All religious group. Lee stands outside and explains to the Star-Times - often through an interpreter - why the death of a woman after an exorcism in the house was a "miracle."

Lee said God told him after she died that dying was the woman's plan and she would come back to life. God was going to show her "all about heaven" and bring her back to life to prove it existed.

Lee said many people in New Zealand did not believe in Jesus Christ. The woman's death - and eventual re-birth - would prove to them God was alive. He said it was a sign, a "miracle."

Lord Of All had about 20 members, said Lee. Most were Korean, but there were also Maori and Burmese members. Lee said the group preached in areas around Auckland, usually Queen St, where it met new friends. Sometimes the group might bring home a homeless person.

Lord Of All was a Christian group with no affiliation to any church, he said. It believed Jesus Christ would return to earth. Exactly how the woman died is being investigated by police but Lee shed some light on how members performed the exorcism. He said all members had undergone "deliverance" and it was used to cast out demons and heal the sick.

The interpreter said deliverance had been performed in Korea for many years. Sometimes they said a prayer around the body, used musical instruments - the interpreter displayed hers, a small silver whistle- like device - and sang. They also touched the person with their hands. If deliverance was being performed on a man, explained Lee, a man's hand would be placed on the chest. If it was a woman, a woman's hand would be used.

In the victim's case, the interpreter explained, they put a woman's hand on her and then a man's. Asked if they had to push hard, Lee, through the interpreter, replied "No, not really." "At first they thought she wasn't dead," he said through the interpreter, "but her body start getting cold and stiff and that's when they tried to resuscitate her."

For the next six days she lay in the house. Police were not alerted until a person, who was invited to the house, saw the body. Lee said the group did not want to raise a "false alarm" by contacting authorities. They were praying and expected the woman would come back to life any moment.

Lee said he was "absolutely innocent" of any wrongdoing and he did not expect her to die. Lee suggested the Star-Times keep a close eye on the house to witness the woman's return.

Waikato University religious studies lecturer Dennis Green said exorcisms in New Zealand were more common than people were probably aware. However, churches were unlikely to broadcast it because people would "think it's stupid", said Green, who had never heard of Lord of All and could not comment on the group. He said most of the conservative churches, such as Assembly of God and Pentecostal, would perform these on a general basis and it usually involved prayer and laying of hands on people to get rid of demons.

It was difficult to differentiate between a cult and a religious group, said Green. The term cult was often a statement of theological disagreement with another group. "You can't come up with an iron-clad definition of what constitutes a religion and what constitutes a cult."

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