Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#862: Bob Larson

Bob Larson is a sensationalist fundamentalist best known for his talk radio show “Talk-Back With Bob Larson” during the 1980s and 1990s, a major promoter of the “Satanic ritual abuse” and “Satanic Panic” conspiracy scares in the 1980s, and, more recently, as an exorcist. (He is of course also a creationist.)

Larson started his career as an anti-rock evangelist in the 1960s, writing plenty of books on the topic (including Rock & Roll: The Devil's Diversion and Hippies, Hindus, and Rock & Roll; writing such numbers of books quickly is apparently rather easy when you don’t have to worry about fact checking or any measure of alignment between claim and reality). The musical campaigns continued into the 1980s with incoherent, raging rants against i Mötley Crüe, the Dead Kennedys, and Fleetwood Mac. An important element of his campaigns was his own experience as a rock band member prior to being saved, though he tends to exaggerate the commercial success of his band (a kind of Pat Boone copy that played at high schools and local venues).

The rise of the Satanic Panic in the 1980s provided Larson with new material for multiple books trying to counter the welling tide of Satanism and New Age ideas (The Seduction of America's Youth and Straight Answers on the New Age, as well as two novels ghost-written by his assistants, Dead Air and Abaddon, concerned with Satanic ritual abuse). In the 90s he would expand his range of attacks to all sorts of groups, including witches, homosexuals, and mormons (a recurring target), and, as before, his radio programs would consist of him often furiously yelling at guests (and begging for money) and trying to convert them until at least one caller would declare having been saved for Jesus (his debate with the Church of Satan is discussed here). Rather obviously, the show quickly became a target for prank callers, which Larson interpreted as a concerted Satanist conspiratorial effort at shutting down his ministry.

His foray into exorcism has given him international fame (e.g. here). In the 1990s he started performing on-the-air exorcisms of victim callers, during which he would spend 20 or 30 minutes with the caller demanding “in the name of Jesus” for the “demon” to leave. For this purpose he also adopted a new theme: “DWJD: Do What Jesus Did,” which essentially seems to be sending as much money as possible to Bob Larson.

His talk show was eventually cancelled in 2001 amid multiple allegations of financial mismanagement and affairs with female staffers. Larson is currently the pastor of the “Spiritual Freedom Church” in Scottsdale, Arizona, but continues to focus on exorcisms and “deliverance” from “demonic possession” and “multiple personality disorder”, through which he retains some fame (here is Larson exorcising the demon of homosexuality – curiously, all of Larson’s patients appear to have watched The Exorcist more than once). In 2008 Larson’s failure to recognize that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not a documentary shot in real time even landed him his own reality TV show on the Sci-Fi channel: The Real Exorcist. Showing that he has entered the modern age, Larson has also developed an online test: for only $9.95 you can take the test (here), and find out if you’re possessed by a demon or not.

His daughter, Brynne, has taken up the family business through Teen Girl Exorcism Squad (“Three Arizona Girls Claim to Cast Out Demons” – the interview in the link is heartily recommended). They’re currently berating and abusing mentally ill people in the name of Jesus, and trying to get a reality-TV show as well. Here is a report on their tour of England, where they ranted about Harry Potter books and sexually transmitted demons.

Diagnosis: Legendarily deranged. His influence is admittedly rather limited, but his methods should be of some concern given that it targets people with real mental illnesses. 


  1. Hehehehe...Bob Larceny, as he used to be called when we would listen to his radio program.

  2. what a great blog! and prolific.
    I'm a pastor and I can't stop reading!
    (wish you were on twitter. I will follow but I don't check blogspot, like ever.)