A Canadian children’s Bible camp is under investigation after a worker allegedly performed an exorcism on a child who was in medical distress.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed to CBC News that a probe is underway into a July 13 incident at Redberry Bible Camp in Saskatchewan involving a staff member and a preteen boy.
According to a government official who spoke to CBC News on condition of anonymity, the incident took place inside one of the camp’s cabins, where two witnesses reported seeing a child lying on the floor, bleeding from the nose, making sounds and twitching.
Some children went to find help and returned to the scene with the staff member, who allegedly proceeded to perform an exorcism on the child as the other kids watched.
The man allegedly told the kids afterward that he had rid the child of a demon, and then handed each of the children his business card and told them they had to stay in contact with him for the rest of their lives, because only he knew how to fend off the demon they’d encountered, according to the source.
Some of the children were so frightened that they called their parents, the official said. Parents took their children home that night and the next morning even though the camp had only just started. Police and other agencies were contacted.
The board chair of the camp, Wayne Dick, told the CBC they’re investigating the incident and the staff member is “not at the camp” anymore, but declined to provide any further details.
According to its website, Redberry is a Saskatchewan Mennonite Brethren Camp, and offers programs “based on Jesus Christ’s command to be the hands and feet of Christ and to make disciples.”
It offers various camps for age groups between 8 and 17.
It’s unclear what processes the camp follows for vetting its staff. The man in question had pinned a post at the top of his personal Facebook account detailing a history of porn and drug addiction, anger issues and domestic violence. He said he was fired from his previous job as a camp counselor when his then-girlfriend showed up there with visible bruising and injuries.
Ailsa Watkinson, a University of Regina professor emerita of social work who specializes in child protection, told the CBC the incident was “just nuts.”
“If that was my child, I’d be horrified,” she said.