Speed Reads

Faith and demons

The Daily Show discovers exorcism-by-Skype

On Monday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart applauded Pope Francis and the bishops of the Catholic Church for their "surprisingly conciliatory language toward same-sex partnerships." But then he handed the show to correspondent Jessica Williams for a look at religion, technology, and exorcisms. Yes, exorcism — and she found a "man of the cloth," Rev. Bob Larson, who performs exorcisms over Skype.

Oddly, Williams makes it sound like Larson is a Catholic priest, rather than an Evangelical televangelist with his own Spiritual Freedom Church, and Larson plays along, wearing a Roman clerical collar. But she also speaks with a real Catholic exorcist, Fr. Gary Thomas, who thinks doing an exorcism over the internet is kooky and dangerous. Williams is skeptical of the whole exorcism thing — Larson is pretty fringy, and Thomas has some interesting theories about Beyoncé — but if you get past the snark, there's a pretty substantive debate about the limits of technology in faith. And, of course, some good laughs. --Peter Weber