- Yes, Mars Hill Church conducts "demon trials."
Week after week we watched all our friends become members and we were subjected to Pastor Mark’s heavy sermons that now looking back were very abusive in tone on how those who weren’t members were “in sin”. I remember week after week feeling like the scum of the earth for not becoming a member; I wondered why it was essential to join. He made it sound like it was essential to our salvation. I remember one time in his sermon he had all the members in the church stand up and he told all the non-members to look at them and thank them for picking up our slack and for doing our work because well since we weren’t members those who were members were doing more serving, more giving, and more committed than those who weren’t members. Gosh, I felt so ashamed that we weren’t members.
Lopez eventually became a member of Mars Hill, but she pushed back on several occasions when she felt the church was wrong. Eventually, her best friend, who was also a member of Mars Hill, stopped talking to her.
A couple months passed and then she of the blue said, “I don’t want to be your friend. I went to a demon trial”. Apparently, the elders were doing demon trials on members or anyone who had oppression in their life. Mark Driscoll wrote this whole procedure on how to summon, and then put on trial the demons that are oppressing the believer. It all sounded strange to us. I asked her why she couldn’t be my friend and she said my name was brought up in a demon trial. I asked her what that meant, and she didn’t answer any more questions other than “talk to your elder about it, but that she would no longer ask me for prayer, talk to me about spiritual things, etc. without giving any other reasons.
Eventually, Lopez and her husband stopped going to Mars Hill. Church Elders allegedly sent an e-mail asking members to pressure Lopez and her husband into talking to the church about their problems, but when they finally sent a formal letter to the elders complaining about what they perceived as the church's abuses, she says the elders left them alone.
If you want to learn more about Mars Hill's demon trials, they published a post titled "Spiritual Warfare" on their website explaining the process. The procedure, as published by Mark Driscoll on August 26, 2008, reads like a cross between an exorcism, a half-assed therapy session, and a Scientology auditing session. Driscoll lists any of the following as potential reasons for demonic possession:
...bestiality, habitual lying, physically unhealthy, masturbation, lying, pornography, ongoing depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, drug use, anger, blasphemy, violence, self-inflicted injury, rape, incest, eating disorders, mental illness, pedophilia, and anything else that comes to mind.
It's frightening to think that people with real problems like depression might be going through "demon trials," rather than getting the psychiatric help they really need. And it's incredibly troubling for Driscoll to consider rape and incest as a sign of demonic possession; this could be interpreted as the worst kind of victim-blaming. Over at Patheos, Warren Throckmorton walks you through the entire demon trial process, but I also urge you to go take a look at the process on Mars Hill's own site.