Controversial Spiritual Ritual

Reporter: Mark Gibson

Kevin Hayward says, in the past six months, he's developed a chronic stutter. You might think it sounds far-fetched, but Kevin believes he's being tormented by demons. "Somehow these things have attached themselves to him without invitation so, by command, they're going to go." Enter Anglican priest of 40 years, Father Barry May.

Father Barry used to have a very different job.He was the first chaplain of the WA Police force."So I was called out to all the dramatic stuff, all the suicides, murder scenes, coppers being run over."For 15 years, Father Barry counselled the coppers who dealt with so much grief. Now, he's assisting people in a more unconventional way."If we remember the film the Exorcist...forget all the coloured vomit and the head twisting but a lot of that is very real and I've cast demons out of one person of up to 10 or 12 of them."

Tonight, far from Hollywood, Father Barry hopes to remove Kevin's stutter. "It got so severe two of the attacks put me in hospital."The priest begins by blessing every room in the house. Then, it's down to business, with nothing more than a candle, a crucifix, some scriptures.. and belief. The cleansing ritual takes about ten minutes.. no spinning heads or levitating bodies.

"Kevin how do you feel? -Starting to feel much better, much much much better. -What were you feeling during that process? -Something, whatever it was was being dragged down and out." Kevin believes the evil spirits are gone."It has been absolute hell. -It sounds like the stutter's not there. -Yeah, no, stutter's gone, yeah. -Are you confident that's it, it's gone? -Yep, I tell you, the last 6 or 8 months have just been absolute hell."

"We cannot dismiss this because there are still question marks." Hamish Jamieson is a retired Anglican bishop. "Some people don't want to know about it, some people would want to explain it away, some people find it too scary to get involved in." He says exorcisms are a legitimate part of religion, but there's a good reason the Anglican and Catholic churches don't talk about it. Hamish says "If you look at the Biblical record Jesus didn't go out looking for them, they came to him, if you read the stuff it's there, he didn't go seeking it but he certainly when it did happen then he dealt with it, very calmly, very cooly and that was that, full stop." The former Bishop of Bunbury has a warning for Father Barry.Hamish says "He needs to be careful, very selective in the sense of objectifying the situation and seeing what it's about, looking into the background as much as possible and taking all factors into account, you've got to be very careful about this, not rush into it."

Father Barry says "If they say I've got a demon in the house well I don't believe that necessarily so we discuss things, some call it interrogation but being an old copper I suppose I do that anyway, but I want to find out what's going on." And tonight, says the paranormal priest, has been a success."There is certain satisfaction that you're actually helping people in a very different way."

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