As a pastor with over 17 years experience, I feel compelled to respond to the events that unfolded at the Moruga Composite school recently where several young "female" students began manifesting behaviour and symptoms that most people hastily concluded was the work of satan and his hosts of darkness.
I am especially incensed at the haste with which some pastors moved to cash in on the 15 minutes of fame, proclaiming themselves to be exorcists and moving in on the compound like Clint Eastwood armed with holy water and all.One of the most serious issues I have had with my colleagues over the years is their blatant refusal to lift their followers out of the stench of superstition and irrational beliefs.
Educating people of faith and elevating them out of the abyss of superstition is the key to losing their financial support. It is, therefore, in the best economic and financial interests of some religious leaders to perpetuate this nonsense about satan and demons since the exercise of exorcism is extremely lucrative.
If those same students had gone out into the community and distributed food and clothing to the poor and elderly not a soul in Trinidad would have concluded that they were possessed with the spirit of Jesus. When something good happens it is we who did it. When something bad happens it is the devil!
I have stood in pulpits around the world and preached to people and have witnessed the same behaviour, mostly among women and girls. For years I believed that that was the Holy Spirit until I decided to speak at length with a renowned psychiatrist who said in a very calm and authoritative tone that the phenomenon I witnessed on the pulpit was a form of mass hysteria and in some cases temporary reaction psychosis.
I soon discovered that when I spent time in the pulpit talking about the devil, incidents of demonic possession increased among the people. When I cut it out and began preaching positive messages all the demonic nonsense disappeared and I frankly can't recall the last time I had such a call! Such is the power of subliminal suggestion!
When young girls faint in a Michael Jackson rock concert we blame it on the "moonwalk." When young girls and women pass out in a church it's the Holy Spirit. When it happens at Moruga Composite it is demonic possession. When you look at it objectively it is the dominant belief among the victims that overwhelms their minds and translates into the physical manifestations.
Mass hysteria is a phenomenon in which a group of people, usually women and girls, exhibit similar hysterical symptoms such as headache, vomiting seizures, et al. It is usually governed by a corporate irrational belief in the same thing and usually occurs where people are in close proximity to one another like in a rock concert, a church or a school.
In all the venues I just mentioned it is also a fact that for the most part boys and men are left totally unscathed. If it's satan and his minions the question is what is his fear of men and boys! In 2007, near Chalco, a working class suburb of Mexico city, mass hysteria resulted in a massive outbreak of unusual symptoms suffered by adolescent female students at Children's Village School, a Catholic boarding school.
In 2008, in Tanzania, about 20 female school pupils began to faint in a schoolroom, collapsing to the floor and losing consciousness, while others witnessing the event began to sob and yell and run around the school.In 2010, in a small southern village in the island of Trinidad, girls began experiencing headaches and nausea together with seizures and fainting spells.
It is my hope and prayer that people would "google" a bit more and begin educating themselves about the power of suggestion and psycho-somatic behaviour. There is a big difference between believing in the existence of the devil and believing in the devil. Unfortunately, many who claim to believe in God display more fear and respect for the devil than faith in God.
A psycho-therapist or a psychologist, provided they, too, aren't bound by idle superstitious beliefs, is what Moruga Composite needs, not superstitious pastors and priests.