TV producers preparing to broadcast a live exorcism this evening from a house in St Louis have been warned they “cannot play with games with Satan and expect to win”.
Destination America aims to air Exorcism: Live! tonight from the same house where the purported Satanic possession that inspired the William Peter Blatty book The Exorcist, and later the 1973 film, took place.
But the Archdiocese of St Louis has warned against the plans, saying it risks opening those involved up to a “hidden satanic attack”.
The programme will attempt to show the “exorcism” of the house, not a person, where a 14-year-old boy known as “Roland Doe” was reportedly possessed in 1949.
Catholic priests performed a series of exorcisms at the time, in what went on to become a notorious case.
Exorcisms took place in Washington DC, before priests moved him to St Louis, where further attempts took place at the university campus, the area hospital, and a relative’s home – where the live show will be broadcast.
“No one has ever attempted to rid the lurking spirits and demons that inhabit this home – until now,” Destination America said in its promotional pack for the event.
In a promo for the show, paranormal investigator Nick Groff said: “Something is lurking there, something is stained within the floorboards, within the wood of the building, the foundation, the soil.
“That whole land has this stain, this mark of something that dreaded this individual way back when … It’s waiting there to attack somebody else who’s going to come in and open themselves up.”
The show is the “first of its kind”, but St Louis Archdiocese has said exorcism is an extreme measure not for entertainment.
Bishop Robert Hermann said: “Any attempt to use the solemn Rite of Exorcism as entertainment exposes all participators to the danger of future hidden satanic attack.
“We cannot play games with Satan and expect to win.”
The archdiocese released a statement clarifying it is not involved in the “dangerous endeavour”, saying it felt it necessary to “educate and warn the public about the dangers of participating in such activities”.
It further clarified that anyone involved in the production, including paranormal investigators, spiritualists, mediums or non-Catholic clerics or anyone “who claims to be a member of the Catholic clergy, is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of St Louis nor are they operating under the authority of the Vatican.”
It added: “Any purported exorcism … for the purposes of entertainment trivialises this ancient rite of the Roman Catholic Church and the very real danger of evil.”
Despite this, the channel is still reporting it has a member of the Church to preside over the event.
“We’ve enlisted a qualified and trained bishop to perform the actual exorcism of the house,” Destination America says on its website referring to James Long, of the United States Old Catholic Church, which is not recognised by the Catholic Church.
The programme is still set to go ahead at 9/8c in America.