Emily Rose, girl possessed, walked down the dimly lit hallway of her college dorm. A door suddenly slammed and 20+ students grasped their seats in U of L’s Floyd Theater. On Thursday, October 23, the U of L Student Activities Board presented “The Truth Behind Demonic Possession.”
The event kicked off with a screening of the film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” a movie based on the true story of a college-aged woman possessed by six demons. Throughout the duration of the two-hour film, the student audience sat on the edge of their seats in suspense, as the court case of a convicted priest played out.
“It was a great take on a classic story–well written and very suspenseful,” senior biology major Cody Welch said. The film retold the story of a German girl by the name of Anneliese Michel, and her parish priest who performed the exorcism and was later accused of negligent homicide.
The latter portion of the demon-themed event focused on a presentation by Bishop James Long, an exorcist. He gave a 90-minute lecture regarding the reality of demons. He showed actual footage of demonic presences, and presented sound bites of past exorcisms, including Annaliese Michel’s.
“He gave a great talk on the supernatural,” Welch said. “He was very fair and didn’t try to forcefully prove anything, but was very knowledgeable and passionate.”
Long discovered his calling to the ministry when he was nine years old. He currently serves as a Bishop of the United States Old Catholic Church, and as an exorcist to those whose loved ones are possessed. He takes his gift seriously, earning six degrees throughout his educational career.
“It makes me so angry when people who claim to be exorcists are shown on television,” he said. “It’s a disgrace to my practice.”
Bishop Long talked of the three stages of demonic possession: invitation, oppression and possession. Invitation involves provoking demons, such as playing with Ouija boards or practicing séances. Oppression involves interaction between the demon and a person. Lastly, possession is when the demon takes over or possesses the body.
In his lecture, Long expanded on topics such as how exorcisms work, why demons are real, how to tell if someone is mentally ill or actually possessed and other controversial subjects on the matter. He recommended Jason McLeod’s book “Dark Siege” for those wanting to acquire extended knowledge about demonic possession in real life. An in-depth question and answer session concluded the Halloween-inspired event.
The priest in the film argued once you’re exposed to the darkness, it never really goes away. Bishop Long agreed, “I will always live in oppression. It’s the choice I make living as an exorcist.”