The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings: Exorcism as Gun Control

by William De Arteaga.

The gun control debate

Gun control is regularly debated in the United States, not the least when horrible mass shootings occur in schools, cinemas, and other places. What is lacking in the dispute is a consideration of the spiritual dimensions of gun control. The silence from the pulpit on this issue is especially notable.  Perhaps it is because the clergy dislike weighing in on issues that are not specifically defined in scripture and because American Christians often have very different and passionate opinions on this issue.

In this blog let me offer some thoughts on one dimension of the debate that has received little clergy attention: the demonization (obsession or possession) of many of the mass shooters.

Right at the start let me say that talking about the demonic realm for the Christian is both necessary (if one is true to the Gospel) but difficult due to its multifaceted complications. As Christians, we are in a state of constant spiritual warfare against the demonic realm.  But as in most wars, there is a “fog of battle” in which our intelligence of and knowledge of the enemy is limited. Some Christian writers claim more than we can know about the demonic, as in the exact order of hierarchy and functions of the “thrones, principalities, powers, etc.” Especially difficult is the demarcation between psychological issues, chemical imbalances, etc., and demonic activity in and through a person.

On the issue of mass shootings, it is natural for secular professionals, as in educators and psychologists, to claim that a more robust mental health structure would bring down the mass murder rate. This may be true in a marginal way. But it is a mistake for Christian to agree with this without reservations. A person like Adam Lanza, the murderer of Newton, was not just a neurotic in need of counseling and medication, but almost certainly a demon-obsessed/possessed person in need of deliverance and exorcism ministry.

A major problem here is that most pastors and ministers are poorly educated in the ministry of deliverance and exorcism, More precisely, many ministers have been miseducated into the theology of cessationism which limits the miraculous, including the healing ministry and exorcisms, to Biblical times. This is sadly true not only of liberal denominations but of many conservative, Bible-believing groups such as Presbyterians and Southern Baptists. Exorcism and its allied gift, the “discerning of spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10), as teachable and usable skills are simply avoided in most seminaries.  Exceptions are the Pentecostal/charismatic seminaries and some Catholic and Anglican seminaries.

Evidence for Demonic Activity

Notice that most of the mass killings, and many domestic homicides, end with the suicide of the perpetrator. For Christian ministers, this should be a sign of severe demonic oppression/possession. I learned this indirectly (as one cannot interview a successful suicide victim) decades ago when I was doing research on a book on exorcism. I wisely postponed writing the book, waiting for further spiritual maturity and experience, and it is still to be written in final form.

At the time of my initial research, I ran into Wilson Van Dusen’s book, the Natural Depth of Man. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).  Van Dusan was a psychiatrist in the California mental health system who treated many schizophrenics. He came to understand that many of these patients were assaulted by voices and entities that closely resemble biblically described “demons.” Further, effective treatment required that the patient resist the voices’ suggestions to do immoral acts such as lying, stealing, or self-mutilation.  Further, Bible reading by the patient was especially helpful in subduing the voices. Wow! (It is still in print and available HERE.)

Unfortunately, Van Deusan fell into Swedenborgism, a spiritist cult, as the interpretive theology of his findings. I imagine he first consulted with some cessationist or liberal theologian who could tell him nothing about the demonic spirits of his patients or about the ministry of exorcism and thus sadly turned to Swedenborgism. But his core insights into the demonic nature of negative internal “voices” are valid and especially useful to Christian ministers and mental health professionals.

As usual, when the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me something new, I immediately run into someone or something to verify it. (Happens to you too?) In this case, it was a young man I met when I gave a talk at a Unitarian singles’ group on Exorcism –  about 1978.  (They did not invite me back). After my talk, this young man shared with me his strange meditative experiences. He practiced deep meditation, and being a Unitarian, he wasn’t big into prayer. In one of his meditative sessions, he encountered the most beautiful woman he ever saw. She offered to have sex with him, and they did. He found that in this meditative state he could experience great sex. The catch is he had to lie to someone in order to get repeat sexual favors from the “fantasy figure.”

That fantasy figure was the classic demonic “succubus” of medieval fame. The male counterpart is the “incubus.” Neither are believed in by the elites of education and psychology. No matter, they are real and still active in the world. I explained to the young man that he must resist the beguilement of this figure, or his life would be ruined. He agreed. Unfortunately, I did not have any follow up contact so I do not know the ultimate resolution of this case. Now, this person was by no means mentally disturbed or “bipolar” or anything of the sort. But he had made direct contact with a demonic entity that communicated with him and attempted to destroy his life.

Holy Spirit’s round two on this lesson. A bit later I saw the very fine movie, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” (1977). It was based on the autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenburg of the same name (HERE). The movie showed a young woman driven and harassed by “fantasy beings” – just as described in the Van Dusen work. “Blau,” the young woman, was tormented by a tribe from the “Kingdom of Yi” that dwelt in her mind. Originally they were inviting and friendly, but then rapidly turned negative. They tried to get Blau to injure herself and commit suicide as part of an initiation ceremony into the tribe. The psychiatrist at the treatment center was able to help Blau, but at the end of the movie the voices ominously whisper to her, “We will never leave you!” Well yes, there was no one to do an exorcism on her.

Holy Spirit’s round three. Soon after this, a woman I knew was institutionalized for several days for severe depression and then released with a medication regimen. She had been hearing nagging, negative voices that told her she was worthless, etc., and should commit suicide. After her release, a prayer partner and I did a deliverance on her. In ten minutes we challenged the assaulting voices/demons and cast them out. She never had further problems of this nature.

Holy Spirit round four: Shortly after that, I read what became one of the classics of the Pentecostal literature on exorcism/deliverance, Frank and Ida Mae Hammond’s, Pigs in the Parlor (first published in 1973). HERE The book has an appendix on the demonic aspects of schizophrenia. The Hammonds describe how schizophrenic patients often begin to become demonized by incidents or circumstances of rejection in their lives. This allows a ruling demon of rejection to enter. But various other demons, such as lust, pride, anger, etc., also come in, and in conjunction with the rejection demon, cripple and distort the core personality. The victim’s internal thought is dominated by demonic thought and voices of lust, vengeance, fear, etc., that the victim believes to be his own. For many schizophrenics deliverance prayer must proceed in stages, to give time for the victim to reestablish his/her authentic personality.

Are mass shooters obsessed?

All of this is to say that, much of what passes as severe mental disturbance and hallucinations, and attributed to chemical imbalances, etc., is at times demonic obsession and possession. It is probable that at least several of the mass shooters of late may have had and obeyed demonic voices within them.

We can speculate as to how this happens. They are taunted and beguiled to violence by voices they cannot stop, and which reward or punish the victims in various ways. I have described how the demonic can reward a person with sexual favors. Punishment is also an option. My wife and I ministered to a person who was punished by an interior spirit with severe headaches if she started to go to church. We might believe that at least some of these mass shooters have been rewarded and/or punished by interior demonic spirits in similar ways to a point of control. Finally, when the mass murdered is cornered by the police the voices/demons turn into screams of accusation and commands to commit suicide.

All of this is speculative, and I especially invite comments and critiques by ministers or others in the healing profession who have experience in the deliverance ministry.

If my analysis is correct, the promise of stopping mass shooting will not be effectively addressed by any secular mental health program. Anything mandated by Congress under our present understanding of “separation of church and state” will annihilate spiritual considerations, especially any consideration of the demonic as real, or the need for exorcism and deliverance. (I really believe we Christians should begin to confront the phrase “separation of church and state” itself, and insist it will be renamed to what it is, forced secularization.)

All of this seems to make the possibility of effective gun control and the reduction of mass shooters, murders and countless gun suicides impossible to restrain. Especially distressing are the number of privately held assault weapons anhandgunsns already out there. Actually, by identifying the spiritual roots of mass shootings we can see that the opposite is true and a remedy is possible.

The remedy is called REVIVAL.

That is, the massive turning of a nation to God and the Bible as happened in the Second Great Awakening of 1797-1830 when Deism was defeated and Evangelicalism birthed (see my book, Forgotten Power: The significance of the Lord’s Supper in revival, for a detailed study of this revival,  (HERE).

But it must be a Pentecostal/charismatic type revival. That is, a revival in which the leadership accepts and incorporates the gifts of the Spirit, including discernment of spirits, and categorically rejects cessationism. Imagine what an America would be where a majority of its churches were actively Spirit-filled and empowered. Pastors and their prayer teams would be alert to persons in the community who were in the process of demon oppression and possession and could intervene with deliverance ministry before they acted out.

This promise that revival can bring major social/ethical and spiritual changes may seem far-fetched only because Americans have no living memory of a major revival. (The stuff that goes on in churches when the sign says “Revival tonight by Pastor Smith” is merely normal evangelizing.) America has not had a nation-shaking revival since the Azusa St. Revival of 1906-1913. No revival has ever been 100% effective in converting and transforming everyone, but such revivals as the Welsh Revival of 1903 were so profound that the crime and drunkenness rate shrunk to previously unimaginable numbers.

Let us all pray that a great revival comes to America, where the murder rate shrinks to minuscule levels.

On an unused scripture

Before I proceed with my last speculation, let me bring up an incident from the book of Acts.  It is that of Paul confronting a sorcerer and immobilizing him:

But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?  Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.  When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13: 8-12.)

Note that this is not an exorcism, but the immobilization of a person through blindness. The Church is just awakening from its cessationist period and into its Holy Spirit powers. As of yet, no Spirit-filled Christians I have met has ever discussed doing any such thing on any demonized person. I am a Charismatic from way back in the 1970s, and I have never seen a teaching on this, Pentecostal or charismatic. Neither have I found it in the literature of classic Christian spirituality. (If I am wrong on this please let me know in a blog comment.) Cessationist commentators easily write this off as history and a special grace of Apostolic times without present-day relevance.

With this scripture in mind, let me turn again to the issue of mass shooters with a final speculative word, but one that may be life-saving.

First, a sensible word from the US government. FEMA recently put out a brochure advising churches on how to react to mass shooters. It suggests that ministry staff talk about the possibility of a mass shooter incident and develop a quick response plan. It gives very sensible, secular advice. Basically: run, hide, and fight (i.e.,“take aggressive action” as in throwing chairs, fire extinguishers, etc.). The brochure is in PDF format for downloading and available HERE.

More elaborate instructions are given in  recent article HERE.

Not hint of a spiritual remedy – naturally. Now let me add that there may be an effectivce spiritual weapon in these incidents. IF, and only IF, one finds oneselftrapped in a group with a demonized person shooting at people, and IF there is no way to run, hide or fight, try this: Speak towards the shooter but to the demons and command: “In the name of Jesus, be bound and paralyzed!” Now, I cannot guarantee this will work, and if all you get is a quick trip to heaven I will see you there some time later and personally apologize. But if you are about to be shot anyway, what is there to lose?

Rightly, there are many difficulties in using this scripture from Acts as model. I frankly do not know if a spirit of sorcery is more easily bound than a spirit of murder. But the scripture is there, and it is not difficult to understand – but all too easy to dismiss. I repeat this is speculative. I have no stories to tell of having done such a thing. But with so many armed, demonized persons out there it is good to keep this in the back of your mind, just in case.

If you have had experiences with the demonic, and minister deliverance ministry of any sort I would love to hear from you in the blog comments.

I am adding (8/23/13) this report of an incident at an Atlanta area school which received way too little publicity. It could have been another school massacre, but it was stopped by a prayerful and faith filled school bookkeeper, Mrs. Tuff. She prayed the heavily armed and mentally disturbed intruder to disarm await arrest. The link to the news report is HERE. A fine interview of Mrs. Tuff appeared in Christianity Today and can be accessed HERE.

Update: The following is a link to a revealing article from The New Yorker, posted March, 17, 2014, on the Sidney Hook Elementary slayer, Adam Lanza. HERE The article relates the tragic narrative of Mr. Peter Lanza, Adam’s father, an executive of a major company, who was a loving father and did all he could to bring his boy out of autism, with no avail. It is interesting to note that in the lengthy article about the Lanza family words like “church,” or “prayer” do not appear. The Laza family was loving, but appreantloy totally secular, and thus clueless as to the “creeping demonization” of Adam, hints of which appear in his early school work and obsession with killing.


On Friday, the 27th of June, the Barbara Walters 20/20 special, “The Secret Life of Eliot Roger” aired. It centered on a lengthy interview of Peter Roger, Eliot’s father. Mr. Roger frankly shared his shock and pain at being the father of the mass killer at the University of California, Santa Barbara (May 23, 2014) University. Eliot murdered a total of six persons, and wounded thirteen before committing suicide.

Mr. Roger explained that he did everything he knew how to help his shy, and troubled boy to normality.  This included psychiatric help and a special high school. He was shocked about the murder spree and equally shocked, disgusted, and astounded by Eliot’s manifesto, posted just before his death. That lengthy document detailed his raging hatred at women and everyone who Eliot felt had slighted him.

Throughout the interview and background flashbacks, there was not a single reference to God, Church, the Bible, etc. Apparently the Roger household, like many in America today , was totally Godless.

Spiritually discerning the situation, we can see that Eliot became a disturbed boy after his mother died at age seven. Since there was no spiritual cover in the home, the demonic used his anger, fear, confusion, etc. as an entry point to take over and ruin the growing boy. Eliot developed a dysfunctional (demonic) attitude towards sex and women. All of this was spewed out in his death manifesto.

One of the surviving victims of the murderous shooting spree said that she saw a “demonic look” on Eliot’s face as he shot down his victims. This is as close as the Walters interview came to any real description of the spiritual dynamics of the situation.

This article, published in the New York Times, verifies in secular vocabulary much of what I say about the demonic nature of voices found in some patients with schizophrenia. “Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia.” The link is HERE 

An article in the Atlantic on mass shootings and contagion. How much of contagion is demonic influence?   HERE

This is a terrific video from the 700 club on how a faith-filled command stoped an armed robber. HERE

Links to my favorite books on exorcism and deliverance ministry are:

Francis MacNutt, Deliverance from Evil Spirits

Frank and Ida Mae Hammond: Pigs in the Parlor

This link is to Dr. MacNutt’s very fine Christian Healing Ministries in Jacksonville FL (HERE) The web site has links to its book store which has a selection of the finest healing an deliverance books in Christendom. I recommend also subscribing to their fine monthly email magazine.

williamWilliam de Arteaga is a priest in the Anglican Church of North America, Church historian and active in healing ministry. You can follow him on his blog Anglical Pentecostal.

7 thoughts on “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings: Exorcism as Gun Control”

  1. There is a terrific danger in following your line of thinking…The core issue of shame…Many patients with schizophrenia, really most, have a genetic and biological component to their disease. On MRI’s now we can see misfiring in the different areas of the brain. So many people with schizophrenia have experienced the shame of “I went for an exorcism it, didn’t work, therefore I must be filled with unforgiveness or even committed the unpardonable sin. Their sense of shame becomes very deep and hopelessness can sit in with what can be an acute chronic illness. This is why the Catholic Church protocol is to have a thorough Medical/Psychiatric evaluation before considering exorcism. And then it is only allowed under an outpatient voices. I do think negative voices can be challenged, some from the Bible and other ways. The newer cognitive therapies, look at how patients relate to the voices, and focus on social skills to manage them. Schizophrenia is an eager target for people who want to see it as sin and possession instead of a disease to be managed. Meanwhile in 23 years of psychiatric chaplaincy, I tend to think the psychopaths and possibly some antisocial personalities, have a deep traumatic darkness fueled by a “demonic” like spirit. I have a good friend who wrote an APA paper on the psychopaths…”The dark at the end of the tunnel.” Their consciences are seared deeply, without empathy, thus making mass murder easy. With a background of trauma that changes the brain, with very early abuse, they have no sympathy, for anyone or anything. Trauma literally changes the brain, with compromised reasoning, and function coming out of the amygdala, which makes for “crocodile consciousness and action”


  2. I had in my live several demonic encounters and heard stories from friends: my girlfriend she told me the story: once she had a date with her boss. suddenly he locked the door and tried to rape her: In panic she shouted at him: “in Jesus name open the door!” The fellow was so shocked, that he immediately let her go and appologized claiming, not having known what happend to him. And she saw a changing countenance of his face and confusion. She got out of the appartement without any hurt.

    I was once followed by a man in the street at night, he would not leave me and in the end he tried to hold me. I shouted at him: “In Jesus name – go away”. The guy let me immediately go, then he ran, stoped once, turned – he was white like a wall – and said: “I didn’t mean it – sorry” then ran away.

    Another time I was in a lonely country-street at night. I saw from far away two lights of a car comint my direction. I had the impression, to go and hide myself. I was a little self-confidence and said proudly: “I have no fear, Jesus is with me…” Then the car, a mercedes like type, dove by, stoped, turned. I blond, tall, slim and young reallised “ups I have done a mistake, probably it was the Holy Spirit, warning me before” – so I immediately appologized before the Lord for not obeying, then I asked him, to grand me His authority, then the one door of the car opened. Two big dark haired men sat in the car and one asked me – if I’d like to go drink a coffee with them (about midnight?!). I told him in a German dialect – he surely did not understand in that part of Germany – “in Jesus name go away”. then the man said: “I have not understood” I told him in his language: “you have exactly heard, what I said and you do it now!” The man closed the door and they drove away.

    Two other times I stood between big men who tried to attack somebody smaler. I did not say “in the name of Jesus” I was only praying before I got in between: “Lord Jesus I go in between, you help me.” Both times the dangerous situations were immediately stopped. Bu I never ran between a guy with a gun, I would do it, if necessary – but in Europe we have stricter weapon laws. But if a mass shooting would break out, I would trie to stop it in the name of Jesus. From my experience I am convinced it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was in a restaurant sitting in a booth around age 10 with my uncle and teen cousin in Tarzana, California. I looked up and saw a couple, man and woman who looked like twins sitting at the counter on stools but turned around looking and smiling at me. I told my uncle those people were looking at me. My uncle looked up and said what people? I looked up and saw no one. I was with my mom age 11 in a small market in Hollywood, California. Mom was paying the cashier near the front door. I looked out the door and saw that same couple in a car stopped at the intersection light. They looked at me and smiled. I worked at Fox movie theater, Hollywood, California after graduating high school summer of 1969. One night after the theater emptied, I was cleaning the concession counter, looked up and saw that same couple standing to the side, smiling at me. I was invited to go to a Psychic reading with friends who I lived next door I never told anyine about that couple. The elderly psychic woman told me she could see twins, a man and a woman and I was protected. I was baptized Catholic my dad’s faith and I was also baptized age 10 at my aunt’s Baptist church. Evil children, teens and adults are everywhere. I have personally known them. Too long a story to write about all of them. I am 70 now and my advice is to be alert 24/7. Guard yourself from all whom you encounter.


  4. Man of God, you are absolutely correct! I know you wrote this article a while back, but I hope this will each you and anyone else that comes across this. If you’re ever find yourself in scary situations where you are attacked, loudly proclaim, “In Jesus Name, i bind you and command you to go to the depths of hell!”
    (Modern day culture is trying to turn the most powerful name into a joke and curse word. Think of how many movies and tvshows you’ve come across where the name of Jesus is used as a curse word.)

    Look up a preacher named Prophet Lovy Elias. Watch a few of his teachings and prophetic services. The most powerful man of God I have ever witnessed. Many of his teachings and exorcisms are on YouTube. Very VERY powerful gifts of prophecy, healing, and teaching. SUPER POWERFUL! (It’s on YouTube).

    I grew up in an Eastern Syrian Orthodox church in the United States. It was religious that genuine growing relationship with God. Despite this, I got into the party lifestyle in college, but I first heard the voice of the Holy Spirit on June 29, 2009. I am definitely not perfect nor think I’m better than anyone else. I am an imperfect man that’s been saved by the Lord.

    Those that don’t understand may taunt and ridicule you, but press on with the prayer that they would have a genuine encounter with God. Remember, they are blind to the truth! They’ve been conditioned by a lifetime of lies from movies, music, education, books… everywhere! The enemy’s goal is deceive as many as possible into thinking Christianity is simply about a ritual than the actual entire purpose for living.

    The term “mental health” has simply normalized demonic oppression. (I’m not saying EVERY mental health issue is demonic oppression necessarily, but most are.) If someone was portraying the symptoms of mental health issues when Jesus was in this world in the flesh, Jesus would CAST IT OUT IMMEDIATELY ! Think about the man named Legion. He had thousands of demonic spirits that caused him to be able to break the physical chains he was bound with at the tombs. He would cut himself with rocks; (yes, this is where the modern-day struggle . Jesus cast it out. Remember, those with mental health issues are VICTIMS; Im not faulting the victims.

    I agree with everything you have said in this article, in the term “forced secularization.” People often assume the demonic means it would be like what Hollywood portrays with the oppressed and possessed having their head spin 360 degrees and climbing walls. There is SO MUCH demonic activity In the United States. The enemy has been doing this for a long time. He is smart, strategic, and organized like an evil military leader. Making terms such as “mental illness” simply normalizes attacks from the enemy into everyday life.

    I’ve even wondered why demons would want to cause their hosts to commit suicide. Doesn’t that cause these parasitic spirits to lose their host? Then the Lord revealed to me to consider how many people are affected by just 1 person’s suicide. Family members and friends will forever ask themselves “if only I reached out, said something, or did something” everyday for the rest of their lives.
    I imagine this also gives the enemy plenty more hosts to attack and suck the life out of. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Sadly, many churches are practicing “gummy bear Christianity.” No real lasting change. Just a 30 minute message preaching new-age messages of how wonderful they are with minimal true study of the Scriptures.

    To anyone reading this and tormented by the demonic, seek Jesus. Daily. I strongly recommend looking into Prophet Lovy Elias on YouTube. His videos are sometimes 4 hours long, but that’s because it’s an entire church service. He has an amazing testimony and genuinely loves the Lord. I have grown more in the last 6 months listening to Prophet Lovy Elias than I have in years! He doesn’t get paid even a single penny from the church and is in ministry because God has called him.

    Man of God, I will continue checking out your blog and reading more on your thoughts and insights from a Biblical Worldview.

    One last thing – Jesus is VERY REAL. The gods from other faiths are demons. The people following it doesn’t realize that they’ve been deceived. Doesn’t mean you should hate on those of other faiths, but it simply means you need to pray for them. If you do not have a relationship with the one true God of the Bible, genuinely humble yourself right now and ask Him to come into your heart. The main character of all our lives is Jesus. Jesus is not an accessory that you wear like a watch for a few minutes a week. He is the whole purpose. God created man to be in fellowship with man.
    In case you don’t realize it yet from the state of the world, it is the end of ages. Jesus is coming back soon. Get right with God right now. You don’t have to clean up your life in order to come to Him – just come to Him as you are.

    Grace, peace, and blessings in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All paise and glory be to God.


  5. Very interesting. This reflects my own line of thought for well over a year. Since the Nashville shooting, I thought to seek out others who might be thinking along such lines.

    Would love to talk with you sometime.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s