A video has surfaced of a reported exorcism as it was taking place last February behind the closed doors of a Roman Catholic church in Vranov nad Dyji, Czech Republic. A 26 year old visitor heard screams and filmed through the keyhole of the door. Not much is visible; there is plenty of screaming and obscenity (in another language) but nothing supernatural happens from this perspective. The drama that unfolded is what we would expect an exorcism to look like from our familiarity with sensational news reports. Only in the movies, in fiction, are there visions of horror that break the bounds of physics or human capabilities. In reality, exorcisms at their most basic, are an interaction between the victim in some disturbed state and the people who are enacting the ritual. Some might say the ritual enables the victim, encouraging the expression of possession. For some afflicted people, they may benefit psychologically from the process.
A few religious communities in the U.S. deny their children basic health care because they believe it’s a sin not to trust God to heal. The parents dare not seek out doctor’s care for illnesses that are directly curable with modern treatments because of the fear of being chastised by their insular social network and accused of having weak faith. Children suffer and die from this antiquated, absurd belief system. As more cases come to light, U.S. lawmakers, law enforcement and children’s advocates are pushing to punish parents who use faith in lieu of medicine with serious jail time while informing these faith-centered communities that putting the child’s welfare second to religious tenets will not be tolerated.
SWIFT is named after Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels. In the book, Gulliver encounters among other things a floating island inhabited by spaced-out scientists and philosophers who hardly deal with reality. Swift was among the first to launch well-designed critiques against the flummery - political, philosophical, and scientific - of his time, a tradition that we hope to maintain at The James Randi Foundation.