The headline caught my eye: Pastor of Missouri church calls autism ‘demonic,’ says it can be ‘healed’ with prayer. This alleged christian preached that, since God doesn’t “mess up”, things like autism come from the devil and can be prayed and preached out. Just another version of praying the gay away. He said that the idea that God made them that way is wrong, and that we, with the right amount of prayer, can spiritually rewire their brains and “fix” them. And please don’t think this is an aberration; millions upon millions of christians believe that anything they don’t accept or understand is from the devil, and all you need is the right amount of faith, prayer, and holiness.
It is curious to me that people define demonic as those things they can’t, don’t, or won’t accept as being part of God’s creation. Perfection, or, at least, the best possible outcome, is based not on what is inside, but what something looks like on the outside that doesn’t conform to my definition. The Bible is full of things our forebears defined as abnormal; from skin blemishes to types of foods to what we can wear, normal means that which I find to be acceptable. These definitions have been used to support the abuse of people based on gender, skin color, and sex. They have been used to promote genocide and holy wars. God in my image, not the other way around.
First of all, I don’t believe in demons, at least not in the way this so-called preacher does. You might, and I would love to know why you do, but for me, it is just another archaic idea that may have existed at one time but is not evident to me now. I do believe in evil, though. Evil is telling children they can’t talk about their parents in school unless their parents are heterosexual. Evil is sitting by idly while we destroy the earth for cash. Evil is the creation of laws that take away people’s rights. Evil is ignoring the need for justice. There’s lots of evil in the world, but autism isn’t part of that definition.
I think this false prophet in Missouri needs to take the log out of his own eye so he can clearly see who and what he is. I hope that people all over the world who claim to be followers of Jesus can take a moment to discern how they – and I include myself – are living. If there are demons everywhere, then they are in our churches too. Let’s cast out the real evil among us and open our hearts a little more. Evil, allowed to fester, will destroy everything good in the world. That would truly be demonic.
Prayer – We pray today for people who are demonized by frightened, petty people who claim to believe in You. Help all of us to cast out that which causes harm and embrace goodness. Amen.
Today’s art it from the 1863 version of Atlas Obscura. Here is the link: it is a hoot! The Best Demon Illustrations of All Time – Atlas Obscura