‘Ouija boards … witches, curses’: Exorcist bursts open real-life possession case files

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The Exorcist Files” host Ryan Bethea’s fascinating foray into exorcism and the demonic realm took form while he was researching miracles. That exploration sent him deeper into a quest to understand evil.

“I’ve always been fascinated by claims of the miraculous — anything that sort of violates the natural law,” Bethea told CBN’s Faithwire.

That inquiry led Bethea to the Vatican in 2018, where he began having some interesting conversations about evil. Those discussions ushered him to meet with one of the “leading authorities on spiritual warfare and exorcism in the church.”

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And that connection inevitably brought Bethea to Father Carlos Martins, a Catholic priest who works as an exorcist, driving out the demonic from people and locations.

Deeply captivated by the prospects of working with Martins, Bethea reached out and proposed doing a show, to which Martins initially rebuffed his efforts.

“Finally, I said, ‘Look, … you have these incredible stories, and you have these principles and teachings that you’ve dedicated your life to using to help set people free. Why don’t we share that with the world?’” Bethea said.

Listen to him discuss exorcism and the show:

Bethea’s persistence convinced the priest to jump on board with a TV concept that unfortunately derailed during COVID-19.

After a few years of trying to bring the project to life, Bethea and Martins recently launched “The Exorcist Files” podcast, a show that’s making a major splash in the faith arena.

Bethea knows his show — a collection of voiceovers, re-enactments, and case files surrounding real-life cases Martins has handled — might seem strange or unbelievable to some.

But there’s also something enthralling about it.

“There’s something I found deeply credible about Father Martins and his stories and the way he tells his stories,” Bethea said. “After hearing about possessed 9-year-olds, Ouija boards … witches, curses, levitation, and objects, you go, ‘OK, there’s, at the very least, stories here.’”

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about spiritual warfare that a lot of us just get our images from the films, which is basically a priest and a demon shouting at each other,” he continued. “I wanted to just expose and then also, sincerely, [offer help] if someone … genuinely felt that they had something going on in their lives that there was no physical explanation for and they couldn’t find help.”

The show explores various real-life cases, bringing in people like prominent psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gallagher to help differentiate between symptoms of possession and mental health issues.

“Dr. Gallagher has a funny line,” Bethea said. “He’s like, ‘When one of your patients suddenly starts speaking Aramaic fluently, you go, ‘I’m going to potentially rule out maybe mental health causes.’ My mentally ill patients typically don’t learn foreign languages in 48 hours.’”

One of the big questions at the center of purported possession cases, of course, is how people end up in such a dire spiritual state, with Bethea explaining there’s a “permission” that’s somehow granted by the afflicted.

“There is a permission theology that is there — like an idea that they have to be allowed there, and the idea is that, in any sort of exorcism, the drama is to remove those rights,” he said.

From Ouija boards to tarot cards and other such tools, forays into the occult are becoming more prominent. And experts warn these doorways can have a diabolical impact on people.

“From a purely academic standpoint, given what I’ve learned … I just wouldn’t want to roll the dice, right?” Bethea said. “It sounds crazy but … you ask yourself, ‘What do you gain from the Ouija board?’”

He said he was stunned to hear from many people who had their own terrifying Ouija board stories after “The Exorcist Files” recently tackled the issue.

In the end, Bethea said he believes interest in shows like his really speaks to the intrigue embedded in most individuals’ hearts.

“Most humans look at each other and … recognize there is more than just flesh and blood,” he said. “We are mind, body and soul.”

He said he’s hoping “The Exorcist Files” helps bring “freedom and truth” to listeners

“We try not to tell you what to believe; you can decide,” Bethea said. “But here’s a humble priest in Michigan just telling a few crazy stories and you can decide whether you think they’re true or not.”

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