Church Reported to State for Gay Exorcism Video

Director of Connecticut LGBT Youth Group Says Church 'Murdering' Teen's Soul


June 25, 2009—

The exorcism caught on video showed the Connecticut teen writhing on the floor as adults hovered above him ordering the demons to be cast out.

The boy's supposed sin? Being gay.

Except the teen isn't convinced that being gay is wrong, according to a Connecticut nonprofit group for gay and lesbian youth that has mentored him for about a year.

Robin McHaelen, executive director of the Manchester-Conn., True Colors, said she was horrified when she saw the video, reputedly shot in March and posted on YouTube by the leaders of the Manifested Glory Ministries.

The video, which has since been pulled from YouTube but can be seen on multiple Internet sites and newscasts, shows the teen flopping violently on the floor, even vomiting at one point.

McHaelen said she was mandated by law to report the exorcism to the state Department of Children and Families, which she said is now investigating.

"What I saw looked abusive. This child vomited, passed out and looked like he was being abused," she said. "I don't get to choose whether to report or not."

A spokesman for the department, citing privacy laws, told he could not comment on whether or not they were investigating.

"I was really freaked out because it seemed so violent," she said of her first reaction.

In the video, which is about 20 minutes long in it's entirety, a male adult can be seen imploring the demons to be cast out.

"You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now," the man said. "You have no power."

At another point he commands, "Come on you homosexual demon. We want a clean spirit. Get out of the way!"

McHaelen said the video shows a man and a woman alternately performing the ritual. She believes they are Kelvin and Patricia McKinney, the husband and wife team who run the church out of a nondescript building in Bridgeport.

On the ministry's Web site, Kelvin McKinney is listed as the church's overseer. His wife is alternately listed as an apostle, prophet or prophetess.

While Kelvin McKinney declined to comment on the video or his church when contacted by, Patricia McKinney told ABC affiliate WABC, "I have gay friends that I grew up with."

"As for me being a pastor, I live by the word of God," she said. "I don't hate them. We love them. We just don't agree with their lifestyle."

'They Think They're Doing the Right Thing'

McHaelen said she saw the video before she recognized the boy as someone she knew.

Once his True Colors mentor confirmed with the teen that it was him in the video, the boy told his mentor that he had requested the exorcism, something Patricia McKinney confirmed to WABC.

"This kid has been struggling with this issue for a very long time," McHaelen said. "He knows that he's gay and he knows that his religion doesn't approve."

McHaelen said the teen, who will be 17 in November and lives in the Bridgeport area, agonizingly switches back and forth between being proud to be gay and wanting to rid himself of what his religion sees as a sin.

The month after the video was shot, she said, he attended an event known as the Queer Prom, co-sponsored by True Colors.

McHaelen said she doesn't want to vilify Manifested Glory Ministries for the exorcism because the boy went to them.

"They were doing what they thought was in this kid's best interest," she said.

The church's Web site doesn't not list a denomination.

Watching the ritual, she said, made her sad.

"They think they're doing the right thing, but what they're really doing is murdering this kid's soul," she said.

Finding a Healthy Sexual Reality

McHaelen said she's known the boy for about a year. He has very little family support and attends two different churches, Manifested Glory Ministries and another church that is tolerant of his sexual orientation.

McHaelen said it's not uncommon for gay and lesbian teens to flip-flop between accepting and denouncing their sexual orientation.

"They worry that it's a choice," she said.

But that kind of torment, she said, often leads to destructive behavior like kids acting out and having unsafe sex thinking they are going to get AIDS and die anyway, and then seeking out extreme religious intervention when they feel guilty later.

"Neither one of those things are about a healthy sexuality reality," she said, adding that their counselors tell the teens that if they aren't comfortable yet with themselves that they don't need to be sexually active with anyone.

"I don't care who you love, I just want you to love them well," McHaelen said of what she tells her teens.

While exorcisms are commonly thought to be the stuff of horror movies and Third World rituals, McHaelen said she knows of five other Connecticut teens who underwent gay exorcisms at a variety of churches in the last three years.

The Rev. Thomas Scirghi, an associate professor of liturgical theory at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., said that while exorcisms are an authentic institution for the Catholic Church, such a ritual would "certainly not" be performed on a teenager simply because of his sexual orientation.

While true exorcisms are rare, they are still done when a person is believed to be possessed by an evil spirit.

"You would only use this as a last resort," Scirghi said.