IT WAS during a rehearsal in the Arc Pentecostal church in Stratford, east London, that Samuel Taveres first noticed one of his choristers was possessed by a demon. Approaching cautiously, the young preacher asked the demon’s name. It had an answer ready, using familiar words from an exorcism scene in the New Testament: “I am legion”. “This meant,” says Mr Tavares, “that a lot of different demons were in there.” The choir spent the rest of the day praying and commanding the spirits to leave the woman, who was also schizophrenic. It was a struggle, says Mr Tavares, “and I’m not sure she is fully delivered even now.”

Such dramas are not unusual in Pentecostal churches: many offer weekly exorcisms. The faith, popular among Britain’s African and Brazilian populations, as well as many white Britons, was the country’s fastest-growing Christian denomination in 2005-15. But a connection to child abuse in some startup African Pentecostal churches is troubling the police.

Continue reading