Spiritual warfare is quite an interesting subject, all the more so because we don’t have much information on it, though what little we can infer from the Bible is quite fascinating. Inferences to divine armies battling in the heavens, the devil being cast out of heaven, references to the “giant dragon” trying to devour the infant Jesus…what do we make of all that? We know that in some hazy way these events are related directly to us, and that our actions affect the other-worldly battle going on in unseen realms. But how exactly they’re related, and clear specifics? I have none of those, and I suspect you’re in the same boat.
I’m not sure where exactly Joe LaQuiere got his own beliefs on demons. For Joe, spiritual warfare was simple. Any bad attitude could be evidence of an indwelling “evil spirit”. Just like the devil went around “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, we were taught that evil spirits were lurking everywhere, just waiting for the chance to settle in our hearts and souls. If we gave them an opening through having a bad attitude, they’d jump on it and invite themselves right in. So our parents spent time “rebuking” the evil spirits in us every time we were grumpy. As you can imagine, this did not endear them to me. In fact, hearing my parents order evil spirits to leave me, in the name of Jesus, just made me even more grumpy! It felt very stupid and silly, because I knew I was just in a bad mood, not possessed by a demon. But our parents took these things very seriously, praying over us and ordering the demons to leave. If our bad attitude didn’t immediately vanish, that was further evidence in their minds that it was spiritual warfare they were dealing with.
This was the environment that existed in our group when my little cousin H started having seizures. The first time it happened, they called an ambulance and rushed her to the hospital. She was prescribed anti-seizure medication, and I believe they even gave it to her, at first. We heard about it the next morning, and even as children, were properly scared and worried for her. I think she was about 6, but I could be off on the age…it was a long time ago. We all hoped it was a one-time occurrence, and that little H with her blonde hair and sweet smile, would be fine from then on. Then she had another seizure. And another. At this point Joe LaQuiere sat her parents down for some very serious discussions. He was almost completely sure that these seizure weren’t medical – they were spiritual. He thought they were being caused by demon possession, and he had a way to prove it one way or the other. When she started having a seizure, or right afterwards, they needed to order her to say “Jesus is Lord”, because demons couldn’t say those words. So if she said the words, then it wasn’t demon-possession, and presumably was just a medical condition that they could continue to treat with anti-seizure meds. If, on the other hand, she refused to say “Jesus is Lord”, then they had a very very serious problem, and it was going to require a lot of prayer and work to drive the demon out.
With this fool-proof bit of theological wisdom in hand, they and Joe set to work on little H. The next seizure came and went, and they tried to get her to say “Jesus is Lord”. She wouldn’t say it. There was the proof: their little girl was possessed by a demon. This was further confirmed to them by odd things she would say…sometimes she would say there was a “black man” in the room, and she would want him to go away. Even the little bit of reading that I’ve done on the subject has come up with information on visual and auditory hallucinations as a common and expected side-effect of epileptic seizures. But apparently this research was outweighed by the expertise of Joe LaQuiere, who told them this was further evidence of demon possession: she was able to see other demons that were invisible to the rest of us. The “black man” was clearly a demon, and little H needed to be delivered from her demon possession as quickly as possible. So they stopped the seizure medication, and instead spent hours with her, Joe LaQuiere assisting, every time she had a seizure, ordering her over and over to say “Jesus is Lord”. Often she would resist and fight them and cry, or say some variant of the magic words “Jesus is Lord”, but not the exact phrase. I was told that many times they would be up with her all night, fighting and trying to hold her down to control the demon inside her. This was a serious spiritual battle, and they were determined to win. Joe LaQuiere told them they could, and they believed him. Sometimes little H would say “Jesus is Lord”, and they would relax for a bit, believing the demon was gone. Then it would start all over again with another seizure. At one point I think she was having upwards of 12 to 15 seizures a day. I’m not sure what else they tried in their quest to exorcise the demon from H besides prayer, and ordering her to say “Jesus is Lord”. I was told of one time at least that Joe had them forcibly hold her in a shower as part of the process. I’m not sure what effect that was supposed to have, but the seizures continued. Little H started to look like she was in a constant daze all the time. She didn’t act normally any more. She didn’t talk much.
I don’t know how long this went on…I know that eventually the seizures lessened…for all I know, they put her back on seizure meds eventually. I was never told. The one thing we do know for certain: the effects. H experienced permanent brain damage as a result of the untreated seizures. Today she is in her 20s, but she’s never progressed mentally from the small child she used to be. She is still sweet, but with the sweetness of a young child. Her brain has been permanently scarred by the ordeal she went through, and her life will never be the same. I grieve for her and her stolen potential. What will happen to her now? Will she ever be married? Have her own family? Have the emotional capacity to realize the spiritually abusive environment she is in, and the the ability to leave? I don’t know. But I do know who is responsible: Joe LaQuiere.