Meet Bob Larson, exorcist and “occult expert.”
You may not have heard of Bob Larson yet, but Bob Larson is trying to change that.
A former musician, Larson turned Christian in the 1960s and has been a champion of anti-occult causes ever since. He authored a series of books on the presumed perils of rock and roll and heavy metal music, including such titles as “Rock & Roll: The Devil’s Diversion, “Hippies, Hindus, and Rock & Roll,” “Rock, Practical Help for Those Who Listen to the Words and Don’t like What They Hear,” and “Larson’s Book of Rock,” the latter focused on heavy metal.
He has since gone on to become a radio evangelist with his own show, “Talk Back,” in which (among other things) he told perfectly happy kids that they were going to Hell. He openly debated Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey’s daughter, Zeena LaVey.
In his most recent incarnation, he’s now an exorcist. He trains schoolgirls to perform exorcisms. He has his own “exorcism channel” on YouTube. And he served as a consultant on the new exorcism thriller “The Devil Inside.”
In a bizarre interview with Movieweb.com, Larson styles himself as a serious exorcist — but also talks about his belief that Heath Ledger somehow became possessed while portraying the Joker in the film “Batman Begins.” (Instead of a simpler explanation — such as Larson was unnerved by Ledger’s convincing performance as a deranged comic-book monster.) Then he goes on to assure the interviewer that he really can tell the difference between a possessed person and an actor faking it.
In 1993, Cornerstone magazine debunked Larson’s ministry, revealing how he played up fears related to the Satanic Panic and used his radio show to manipulate people into giving him money.
There are many holes in Larson’s story, but the one most pertinent to our mission here at Backward Messages is that he styles himself as an “occult expert” and is providing people with information under that guise. Bob Larson is an “occult expert” in the same way that late North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was an expert on the culture of the Western world. Larson has not spent much time among occultists attempting to study them neutrally, nor (as far as I know) has he ever practiced the occult, or a minority faith, for himself. He’s an outsider — and an outsider with a bone to pick. It could be said that he’s an expert on the supposed evils of the occult — but that’s not the same thing.
Here’s a question for readers: What makes someone an “expert?” How do you decide whether you can trust someone who calls him- or herself an expert? Does Larson fit your definition?