Diane Clay, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said on Wednesday that Coakley decided to perform the ancient ritual in the Oklahoma City public venue after he learned that some Civic Center patrons were troubled and anxious about the possible diabolical after-effects of the Sept. 21 black mass. An exorcism is a ritual generally performed to cast out a demon from an individual.
“From the beginning, we have taken seriously the dark and dangerous spirits being invited into our community. We anticipated this would be a concern for those visiting the Civic Center, and we’ve received many questions about the safety of the building following the satanic ritual,” Coakley said in a statement.
“To address those concerns, we visited the venue the next morning to pray prayers of exorcism over the place and to pray the prayers for cleansing.”
The Dakhma of Angra Mainyu Syndicate, a group of devil worshipers led by Adam Daniels, held the black mass in the Civic Center’s CitySpace Theatre, a small venue with fewer than 100 seats. Daniels told the 42 people who attended the black mass that it was being held as a mockery of the Catholic Mass so that people would be less afraid of the Catholic Church.
Wednesday, Daniels said he wasn’t surprised to learn about Coakley’s on-site prayers to rid the Civic Center of evil in the aftermath of the black mass.
“I find it hilarious how over- responsive he’s being to all of this,” Daniels said. “As I said before, it (black mass) is a deprogramming ritual to cast Christianity out of people. All they (the archdiocese) care about is their religious freedom and not anybody else’s.”
Visit was short
Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock, spokes woman for the Civic Center, said Coakley inquired about visiting the venue and arrived there before business hours, about 7:30 a.m., on Sept. 22, the day after the black mass. She said Jim Brown, the Civic Center’s general manager, let Coakley into the venue and the religious leader’s visit was short.
“It came about very quietly and was private,” Lindsey-McClintock said.
“He (Coakley) felt very strongly about wanting to come in and perform a cleansing of that space of whatever entities he felt might remain.”
She said others in the community expressed a similar idea through emails sent to the city of Oklahoma City on the day of the black mass and several days afterward.
She said four emails were sent from individuals who said they were concerned about “us opening up doors that would allow evil spirits to enter our community.”
Clay, with the Oklahoma City archdiocese, said Archbishop Coakley, as leader of the Catholic archdiocese, was contacted by numerous people with similar concerns.
“We received dozens of emails and calls from people concerned about whether they should attend events or enter the building after the black mass, including a young couple who planned to hold their wedding reception at the Civic Center who wondered if they should move it someplace else,” Clay said.
Wednesday, Lindsey-McClintock said the archbishop’s gesture was appreciated because of the concern expressed by Civic Center patrons.
“We were very grateful that he reached out to us if for no other reason than to help any patrons who may feel uncomfortable know that the space has been cleansed,” she said.
“Now that the space has been cleansed spiritually, we feel a lot of people might feel comfortable coming back to our building.”
Rebuking evil through prayer
For many people, the word “exorcism” conjures up Hollywood- version images of a young girl’s head spinning as she spews green vomit as the main character did in the hit 1973 horror movie “The Exorcist.”
However, in modern-day Cath olicism, exorcism is generally not thought of in such dramatic terms, but simply as a specific prayer or ritual.
“The prayers of exorcism are a reflection of Jesus expelling evil spirits and sharing this authority with his Apostles. It is similar to what non-Catholic Christians would pray to Jesus, asking for him to ‘rebuke’ the evil spirit,” Clay said.
“For Catholics, it is a specific prayer or ritual that invokes the intercession of saints and calls upon the power of Christ to drive out evil spirits.”
Meanwhile, Tulsa is one of three cities in the United States where Roman Catholic priests meet regularly for training to cast out demons, according to a recent story in the Tulsa World. The newspaper reported that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, headquartered in Washington, D.C., decided in 2010 to increase the number of exorcists in America.
The Tulsa Diocese has one exorcist, the Rev. Patrick Brankin, diocesan leaders told the Tulsa World.
The Rev. Mark McAdow, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City, said he and some members of his downtown congregation sang hymns and prayed outside the Civic Center as a Christian response to the satanic black mass as the event was being held. He said he didn’t know much about the theological aspect of cleansing a space such as a theater through exorcism but “I certainly agree with the stand the archbishop took to cleanse the area of any demonic influence.”
The Rev. Joseph Alsay, rector of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, has performed blessing ceremonies of buildings and businesses. He said it didn’t surprise him that Coakley would perform prayers designed to rid a place of demonic forces.
“Usually in a blessing, you are asking the power of God to come down. In an exorcism, you would be asking the power of God to remove that which is not holy — because there are spiritual forces out there, whether people believe it or not,” Alsay said.
“If we talk about the Holy Spirit indwelling in a place, then certainly an evil spirit can too. But the power of God is stronger, that’s what we celebrate as Christians — Christ’s victory over Lucifer and death.”