Safran's exorcist coming to haunt your neighbourhood

Herald Sun/March 6, 2005
By Bryan Patterson

Bob Larson, the evangelist who famously performed a televised exorcism on John Safran, is on his way to Australia for a public "showdown with Satan."

Larson plans to cast out dozens of demons during appearances in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane this month. "I want people to know that demon possession is a serious business and God has told me to take this to the public arena," the Arizona demon-buster said this week.

"I put my life on the line every time I go on stage. I've had ribs broken and been physically assaulted regularly when battling with the demons inside people," he said.

"Australia is where I want to be now.

"I've seen research that states the money spent on sex, booze and gambling in Australia is more than 52 times that spent on God. A mere 23 per cent of Australians participate in church or religious activity in any three-month period.

"Do you understand why I'm anxious to be there?"

Exorcism is enjoying a renaissance in churches and in popular culture.

In the last episode of John Safran vs God on SBS last year, Larson performed a four-day exorcism on the TV presenter.

On camera, Safran, who was born Jewish and professed to be an atheist, accepted Christianity. Later he said he was not sure what he believed.

"I've talked to John via email a couple of times and I don't know what he thinks now," Larson said. "If he wants to catch up in Australia that's fine. If not, so be it."

Larson claims to have performed about 6000 exorcisms on stage. He describes the claims that he is preying on the psychologically unstable as "misguided".

"I can quickly pick up on whether someone is psychologically disturbed or demon possessed. They are completely different things."

He is equally dismissive of claims by some fundamentalist and evangelical Christians that he is "cashing in" on renewed interest in the devil and exorcism.

"The number of exorcisms performed in the world is increasing rapidly. Even the Vatican is running courses on exorcism. People have to face the reality of this. I'm not a sideshow performer.

"I'm not performing an exorcism on a naked man in a graveyard. That's what Jesus did.

"What I do is serious business. God has asked me to do this."

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