An event aimed at 'hexing' US Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh at a New York occult bookshop tomorrow has been sold out.
Kavanaugh was confirmed following a bruising battle after he was accused by several women, notably Prof Christine Blasey Ford, of sexual misconduct. As a conservative his support from evangelicals was solid, but many others questioned the appropriateness of his appointment. Kavanaugh denied all the allegations.
Catland Books, a 'metaphysical boutique and occult bookshop' in Brooklyn, invited participation in the ritual on its Facebook page, saying: 'Please join us for a public hex on Brett Kavanaugh, upon all rapists and the patriarchy at large which emboldens, rewards and protects them. We are embracing witchcraft's true roots as the magik of the poor, the downtrodden and disenfranchised and it's history as often the only weapon, the only means of exacting justice available to those of us who have been wronged by men just like him.'
Kavanaugh, it said, would be 'the focal point, but by no means the only target, so bring your rage and and all of the axes you've got to grind. There will also be a second ritual afterward – "The Rites of the Scorned One" which seeks to validate, affirm, uphold and support those of us who have been wronged and who refuse to be silent any longer.'
It's got some Christians very worried. Jennifer LeClaire from Awakening House of Prayer says hexes 'work in the realm of bringing "bad luck"', and are a 'wicked power based in witchcraft'. 'Witches are rising up with boldness to hex public officials,' she says.
While the National Catholic Register quotes Fr Gary Thomas, the exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose, California, who says that while curses directed against people in a state of grace have 'little or no effect', 'The decision to do this against a Supreme Court justice is a heinous act and says a lot about the character of these people that should not be underestimated or dismissed.' He concludes: 'These are real evil people.'
But will it work? The shop hosted three hexes last year on President Trump, who seems to be doing just fine. And isn't there something odd about advertising the event on Facebook and asking people to book through EventBrite? There's a strange conjunction between the modern and the medieval.
And that's the problem – that the furore over this has much more to do with medieval ideas about magic than it does with properly grounded biblical theology. Jennifer LeClaire really struggles to find a biblical basis for her concern, and her examples are not, with respect, very convincing.
In fact the idea that occultists or Satan-worshippers can draw on demonic power to curse people they don't like has no biblical warrant. It owes more to fantasy literature like Harry Potter than to the Bible.
Having said that: most Christians, if they are wise, take what the Bible does say about the powers of darkness very seriously. There are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). But most of us know what CS Lewis said about the Devil in The Screwtape Letters: 'There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight.'
Catland Books evidently believes it can accomplish something by its 'hexing' ritual. But that's no reason for Christians to believe them – in fact, going along with their claims means we run the risk of the 'excessive and unhealthy interest' of which Lewis warns.
The best response to the would-be hexers is to pray for them, that they'll come to trust in a personal and loving God rather than trying to inflict harm and suffering on others. The next best response is to ignore them. The worst response is to believe the lies of the Devil and take them at their word.
Tomorrow's hex won't do Brett Kavanaugh a bit of harm. But if it leads Christians to think the powers of evil are to be fought in fantasy-land rather than on our doorsteps or in our hearts, it can be very harmful indeed.
Follow Mark Woods on Twitter: @RevMarkWoods