By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The video shows the 16-year-old boy lying on the floor, his body convulsing, as elders of a small Connecticut church cast a "homosexual demon" from his body.
"Rip it from his throat!" a woman yells. "Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!"
The 20-minute video posted on YouTube by Manifested Glory Ministries is being called abuse by gay and youth advocates, who are demanding an investigation. But a church official this week denied that the teenager was injured or that the church is prejudiced.
"We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man," the Rev. Patricia McKinney told The Associated Press. "We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle."
The church posted the video on YouTube but has since removed it; it is still available on some Web sites that copied it. The church declined to make the video available for distribution by The Associated Press.
It shows church members standing the youth on his feet by holding him under his arms, and people shouting as organ music plays.
"Come out of his belly," someone commands. "It's in the belly - push."
Later, the teenager is back on the floor, breathing heavily. Then he's coughing and apparently vomiting into a bag.
"Get another bag," a participant says. "Make sure you have your gloves."
As the youth lay back on the ground, limp, church members put a white sheet over him.
It's nearly impossible to say how often similar exercises occur in churches nationwide. But Kamora Herrington, who runs a mentoring program at True Colors and has worked with the youth, said she believes it's fairly common.
"This happens all the time," she said. "This is not isolated."
Robin McHaelin, executive director of True Colors, an advocacy group for gay youths, said her organization is aware of five cases in recent years in which youths in her program were threatened with exorcism.
In one case, she said, a child called to report that his caregiver had called a priest who was throwing holy water on his bedroom door.
"I think it's horrifying," McHaelin said of the video by Manifested Glory. "What saddens me is the people that are doing this think they are doing something in the kid's best interests, when in fact they're murdering his spirit."
McHaelin said she planned to report the situation to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. An agency spokesman said the agency does not comment on complaints or investigations.
"They have this kid in a full nelson," she said. "That just seems abusive to me."
McKinney said the youth was 18. The boy confirmed he is 16 but otherwise declined to comment, citing the advice of his pastor.
McHaelin said the boy told her staff that the church performed the ritual three times at his request. She said the boy has been engaging in risky behavior that she blames on the church's treatment.
McKinney said the youth went to the church last year and collapsed on the floor during a service.
"He was out of control in the church," she said. "This young man came to us. We didn't go to him."
McKinney denied the ritual was an exorcism, describing it instead as a casting out of spirits. She said the church took care of the youth, providing him clothes.
"He was dressing like a woman and everything. And he didn't want to be like that," McKinney said.
The teen had been in reform school for stealing but was eager to get out and go to the church to have what he thought were his demons driven out, Herrington said.
Exodus International, a Christian group that believes gays can become straight through prayer and counseling, does not advocate the church's approach, said Jeff Buchanan, director of church equipping.
The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, a minister in Oakland, Calif., said he was subject to demon casting in the 1990s when he was at a Baptist church and was struggling with his sexuality. He said he was put in front of the church as members shouted "demon of homosexuality come out of him."
"It caused nothing but shame and embarrassment," Stringfellow said.
McKinney also has a weekly radio program. She talked on Wednesday's program about being "persecuted" in recent days but did not mention the video specifically.
"It's been a hard time for me, but I'm looking good and I'm standing strong because when you have a mandate like mine you're not going to say what you want without the adversary coming after you," she said. "If you are a true prophet you're not going to be popular with the people."