A Baptist group has expressed concern that people are turning to spiritualism with potentially harmful consequences after losing loved ones during the pandemic.
Spiritualism believes in contacting the dead and communicating with the departed through mediums as a way of finding closure or guidance.
The Baptist Deliverance Study Group has issued a warning against resorting to spiritualism, which it said could "open up a doorway to great spiritual oppression which requires a Christian rite to set that person free."
Rev Jayne Irlam, the group's Project Lead for Education, Research and Training, said it was "completely understandable" that people would want to speak to loved ones beyond the grave, especially after the last year when Covid-19 restrictions have prevented many from saying their goodbyes in person.
But she warned that spiritualism is a form of "seduction", and that 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."
She said the group had been contacted by people asking for deliverance ministry in order to be "set free from some horrific consequences of becoming involved in spiritualism."
Rev Irlam is instead urging people struggling with grief or bereavement to seek help from their local Christian church.
"In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a great many people have been left struggling with grief," she said.
"The loss of a loved one is traumatic at any time but with the added complication of restricted visiting, many of the deceased unfortunately could not pass away in the presence of friends and family.
"Those left behind carry a unique pain, and bereavement experts agree that many will be struggling with their bereavement as a result."
She advised people suffering from a bereavement to turn to their local Christian church and not the Spiritualist church "if they want true, loving and compassionate healing."
She added, "If people saw the bondage to spiritualism we have seen, they would have nothing to do with it.
The Baptist Deliverance Study Group was launched by the North West Baptist Association of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) in 2018 to deal with rising demand for deliverance ministry.
It was inspired by the deliverance ministry already available in the Anglican Church, and exists to research, reflect, resource and support Baptist ministers in the safe practice of deliverance ministry, otherwise known as exorcisms.
Although set up under the auspices of the BUGB, the services of the Baptist Deliverance Study Group are available to any denomination.
At the time of its launch, Rev Irlam said, "Year-on-year, across the denominations, churches are seeing sharp rises in the number of people requesting deliverance ministry or 'exorcism'."
For further information and guidance, contact the Revd Gary Serra di Migni, Project Lead: Cases at firstname.lastname@example.org