In the U.S., some clergypersons believe Satan and his demons appear to be busier than ever in the new millennium—and they admit that the ancient rites of exorcism are being performed in increasingly large numbers to combat the evil machinations of the powers of darkness.
While the Roman Catholic Church is most noted for conducting exorcisms, their clergy is actually extremely cautious in approving the rites. Once official approval has been granted to conduct an exorcism, the rites themselves may take hours, days, or weeks to complete. But in spite of their careful scrutiny of all claims of satanic possession, the church has admitted to having ten official exorcists on duty in the United States today; ten years ago, they had only one.
Most experts agree the majority of exorcisms currently being conducted in the Americas are being performed by Protestant churches and sects. Approximately 600 evangelical exorcism ministries are in operation, in addition to numerous exorcisms being conducted by Pentecostals and other Christian sects. These religious bodies see Satan as an active force. They perceive a heightened campaign of evil in what they believe are the fast-approaching End-Times before the Second Coming of Christ. They believe the devil and his demonic hordes must put in overtime to lead as many people astray as possible before the Lord conquers Satan and casts him into the pit of fire.
In some of these exorcisms, little more is done than prayers for deliverance of the afflicted and the laying on of hands to heal the victim of demonic influences. In others, the so-called exorcism may be a kind of counseling session in which the troubled individual is advised how best to escape the lures of the demons of lust, greed, anger, and so forth. In still other instances, those accused of being possessed might be tied to chairs and subjected to teams of exorcists praying and screaming for the demons to retreat. Some observers have compared the techniques of some of the more elaborate exorcisms to a kind of psychodrama in which the possessed is able to enact a kind of release of guilt and feel reborn and freed of sin.
While not all contemporary clergypersons believe in the possibility of demon possession, but prefer to speak of mental health problems that may trouble certain parishioners, most still concede that there appears to be an intelligence of some kind that directs evil in the world. They caution that those who suspect possession in themselves or others are not gullible or that they open themselves to the suggestion of demonic possession when other mundane explanations may exist.
Cuneo, Michael W. American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. New York: Doubleday, 2001.