Via reader Norm, I heard of this story from France where a young woman was subjected to a crucifixion-style exorcism by her former boyfriend and three others, all members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, because they thought she was possessed by the devil.
The young woman, referred to solely by the name Antoinette, was barely alive when police found her in a flat in a housing estate in the Paris suburb of Grigny.
Her tormentors are accused of tying her up like Jesus on the cross, and keeping Antoinette in the same position for seven days during 2011.
They believed that this would exorcise her from her sins, and get rid of the devil inside her.
In the meantime Antoinette was regularly beaten, and only allowed small amounts of cooking oil and water so as to stay alive.
They all shared strong religious convictions, and a thorough understanding of the biblical texts.’
The accused all deny any wrongdoing against the woman, claiming she consented to the exorcism.
The church denies that this had anything to do with the church’s teachings. But that is always the problem, isn’t it? Because all the elements of these teachings (devils, possession, exorcism, flagellation) are present in Christianity and you should not be surprised when people put those things together in all manner of weird ways.
When you preach about the devil and how he can possess people, you are going to have people who take it seriously enough to get crazy ideas like this. And the idea of torturing the body to purify oneself is all too common in many major religions so it is not surprising that they thought this might work.