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An Atlantic Genealogy of “Spirit Possession”

  • Paul Christopher Johnson (a1)

Not all spirits have retreated to metaphor, even in the very public sphere of U.S. electoral politics. As we learned during the last presidential campaign, Governor Sarah Palin enlisted the help of Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee during his 2005 visit to Alaska to cast out the spirits that hindered her career. The New York Times elaborated, “Ms. Palin has long associations with religious leaders who practice a … brand of Pentecostalism known as ‘spiritual warfare.’ Its adherents believe that demonic forces can colonize specific geographic areas and individuals.… Critics say the goal of the spiritual warfare movement is to create a theocracy” (Goodstein 2008, my emphasis).

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