Content warning: Graphic depictions of violence
HOUSTON – A Houston physician says that “some need deliverance from demon sperm” while also calling Dr. Anthony Fauci a liar, recommending hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 and stating that face masks are unnecessary to mitigate the pandemic has now become the meme reaping tremendous amount of viral attention just in the last 24 hours.
President Donald Trump re-tweeted the physician’s claims elevating her message and conferring upon her celebrity status. The president’s son, Donald Trump jr, was put in suspension by Twitter for sharing the claims.
Besides the potential for spreading COVID misinformation, the comments can have serious consequences for women and the elderly at risk of being accused as “witches”.
Stella Grace Immanuel, formerly Stella Gwandiku-Ambe Immanuel, a pediatrician and Christian evangelical minister, or according to her Twitter “Physician, Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Deliverance Minister, God’s battle axe and weapon of war” has embraced her newfound celebrity in the COVID-19 pandemic to promote her current and past claims.
Immanuel has released a series of statements including tweets and videos, claiming that illnesses like endometriosis, cysts, infertility, and impotence are caused by sex with “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives”—a phenomenon Immanuel describes essentially as “witches and demons” having sex with people in a dreamworld.
Immanuel writes “In fact studies shows [sic] that seven out of ten people in the church are affected by these spirits.” She adds that “Many women suffer from astral sex regularly. Astral sex is the ability to project one’s spirit man into the victim’s body and have intercourse with it. This practice is very common amongst Satanists. They leave their physical bodies in a dormant state while they project their spirits into the body of whoever they want to have sex with.”
Immanuel has a long history of making these types of comments. As far back as 2013, she has said that medical issues are caused by supernatural forces- “witches”, demons, and astral sex- “are responsible for serious gynecological problems”. “We call them all kinds of names—endometriosis, we call them molar pregnancies, we call them fibroids, we call them cysts, but most of them are evil deposits from the spirit husband,” Immanuel said of the medical issues in a 2013 sermon. “They are responsible for miscarriages, impotence—men that can’t get it up.”
Immanuel notes that human witches are equally dangerous. In a 2015 sermon that laid out a supposed Illuminati plan hatched by “a witch” to destroy the world using abortion, gay marriage, and children’s toys, among other things, Immanuel claimed that DNA from space aliens is currently being used in medicine.
“They’re using all kinds of DNA, even alien DNA, to treat people,” Immanuel said. Among her other claims include that scientists are planning to install microchips in humans as well as develop a “vaccine” that prevents people from becoming religious.
Immanuel is listed as a licensed physician in Texas. She was born in Cameron received her medical degree from the University of Calabar in Nigeria in 1990. She began her practice of medicine in the US in the 1990s. According to her address listed on her medical license, her medical practice coexists in the same space as Fire Power Ministries Christian Resource Center, headed by Immanuel.
Her videos have been removed by Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook for broadcasting false claims. Immanuel responded that “Jesus Christ would destroy Facebook’s servers” if the videos were not restored.
Immanuel’s comments are bizarre, and her messages have spawned a surge of memes mocking her. They may have serious consequences given the COVID-19 pandemic to those who may practice her advice on infectious diseases.
However, her message has serious implications for religious communities that are not part of her interpretation of Christianity, particularly to Witches and other Pagans.
Heather Greene, editor, author, and former managing editor of The Wild Hunt, has studied Immanuel’s type of threats and comments for years. Greene wrote, “The latest viral bogus Covid video to go around is problematic in a few ways. But the one issue that I want to bring up is the mocking of the doctor’s beliefs. She is not just a crazy conspiracy theorist. She actually is a minister who is part of the Pentecostal movement. Her beliefs derive from her religious faith and are common.”
Indeed, Immanuel’s history is very relevant to her methods and claims. Greene added “The Pentecostal movement has been the cause of so much harm to the citizens of many African nations. Death. Child neglect. Child Beatings. Torture. Dismemberment. The doctor’s belief in demon sperm is funny here in the US but it’s very serious in sub-Saharan Africa. Witchcraft means something different in those cultures than it does here.”
The threat is real. Women and the elderly are routinely targeted as “witches”. TWH’s Pagan Community Notes from this week highlighted the increased assaults. Last Thursday, Akua Denteh was beaten to death after a local priest accused her of being a “witch.” Surrounded by a crowd of individuals goaded who participated, her community killing was recorded and posted online.
While Denteh’s murder has been condemned by human rights organizations, and now compared as a watershed moment like the killing of George Floyd, her murderer or murderers remain free.
As current TWH editor-in-chief, Manny Tejeda-Moreno, previously noted,
The current witch hunt and elimination of witches is chiefly the culmination of colonization and the importation of Scottish and American Pentecostal and evangelical missionaries into the local community. It has produced a truly noxious cultural brew that imperils lives. And now that Northern Nigeria is reporting the identification and hunting of witches suggests a sinister contagion into regions that have traditionally been disinterested in locating and punishing them.
The only instrument, many believe, to remedy such evil is to turn to the power self-proclaimed priests and prophets who purvey both salvation and antidotes. One such prophet is Helen Ukpabio self-declared as The Lady Apostle and founder of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Calabar. Ms. Ukpabio produced and starred in a film called The End of the Wicked. While available on YouTube, I strongly recommend you watch it with caution if you intend to work your way through it. The Wild Hunt has previously reported on her activities.
Immanuel’s remarks intersect the privilege and safety of the West with the authority of a physician and their consequences to the weakest members in our global society. As TWH News Editor, Star Bustamonte wrote “In the United States, most Witches and Pagans have little to fear these days from being identified as such. Many practice openly, holding their events in public spaces…In other parts of the world and despite the fact that many identified as “witches” have nothing to do, spiritually or culturally, with witches or witchcraft sense. Most seriously, the accusation of witchcraft can be a death sentence.”
Indeed, Witchcraft is a punishable offense in many nations, like Saudi Arabia having a specialized law enforcement unit to find witchcraft practitioners. In other places, like in Ghana, the community condemns and executes those believed to be “witches”.
Groups like the South African Pagan Alliance and their Touchstone Advocacy Campaign have sought to respond to a critical worldwide need for greater public awareness, education, and advocacy against “witch-hunts” that changes culture and ultimately save lives. The United Nations has also addressed the seriousness of the issues through the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Greene noted “we here can laugh about demon sperm and evil witches and wizards, but be mindful that those beliefs are more than a tinfoil hat conspiracy game. They are part of a larger world crisis that is literally killing innocent people around the world.”
Tomorrow, TWH will report on “witch camps” in Ghana, safe spaces for those accused of “witchcraft” but now slowly being dismantled.