A Baptist group in the U.K. is warning against occult spirituality following the rise in people trying to communicate with the dead, particularly those grieving the loss of loved ones who died from COVID-19.
The Baptist Deliverance Study Group of the Baptist Union in Great Britain, which oversees the deliverance ministry for the organization, has raised concerns about the increasing number of people seeking to contact their dead relatives through the use of mediums.
The Rev. Jayne Irlam, the group's project lead for Education, Research and Training, said it's "completely understandable that those desperate to say goodbye to their loved ones would be attracted by a spiritual philosophy which offers communication with the dead."
But she cautioned: "Communication with the dead in this way is specifically forbidden in the Bible by a loving God who wishes to keep people safe from bondage to preternatural or demonic powers. ... Becoming involved in activities such as Spiritualism can open up a doorway to great spiritual oppression which requires a Christian rite to set that person free."
Irlam said the Baptist group has been approached by people seeking to be "set free" from spiritualism after enduring "horrific consequences."
During an interview with Premier Christian News, Irlan noted that due to the lockdowns spurred by COVID-19, many families weren't able to see their loved ones before they died nor have the funerals they wanted.
"The fact that people have often not been able to say goodbye properly … there's often been very limited contact at the end with loved ones, and even limited numbers in funeral services. And therefore, it stores a lot of unmet psychological needs in people," she said.
Irlam, who's also a co-minister of the Church Without Walls in Manchester, added: "We need to think carefully as the church about how we meet that, and how Christ wants to meet that in order to persuade people that they don't need to turn to these practices, which invariably leads to bondage and suffering in the end."
The group is urging people to stay away from spiritual practices aimed at contacting the dead because it may "open up a doorway to great spiritual oppression which requires a Christian rite to set that person free."
Irlam told the outlet that many people who reached out to them for help after they became entangled in the occult, including satanism, said they felt they belonged more in those communities than they did from the established Church.
"I think that's a real challenge toward the Christian Church, to think very carefully about why people perceive that. It is very sad that somebody might actually feel but they get a greater sense of purpose and belonging, and even support from a group dedicated to something like witchcraft than they do from the Christian Church," Irlam said.
"My advice to churches would be to look out for people who are searching and may wander into the church, who have also been looking around at over spiritual options. And make sure that your doctrine is clear that you cannot combine following Christ with the odd visit to the spiritualist church."
Her words come amid a “surge” in interest in spiritualism.
In January, the U.K. Times reported that applications for membership in the Spiritualists’ National Union increased by 325% during the first month of the lockdowns. A similar rise in interest in spiritualism occurred after World War II, and the outbreak of the Spanish flu, approximately 100 years ago.
“In their normal daily routine people are extremely busy and don’t have the time to ask the question: what happens when we die? All of a sudden people found themselves with a lot of time on their hands and were being bombarded with death rates on the news. It is extremely worrying and people are experiencing stresses that we probably haven’t experienced since the Second World War,” Steven Upton of the Spiritualists’ National Union, told the U.K. Times.
The Spiritualists’ National Union reportedly oversees a network of approximately 300 churches across the U.K., where spiritualists channel the dead during services.