A group of Christians, including three Church of England priests, will hold an exorcism ceremony at the site of the London arms fair this Sunday (8 September).
The fair, known formally as Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi), will open at the Excel Centre in east London on Tuesday 10 September.
By exorcising the demons of the arms fair, the Christians say they will draw attention to the evil of DSEi, while praying for an end to the arms trade. The action will take place at one of the gates to the Excel Centre at 4.00pm on Sunday, which will be marked as Stop the Arms Trade Day of Prayer.
The exorcism, part of an act of worship and protest, is organised by anti-capitalist network Christianity Uncut with support from other groups.
The Christians involved are inspired by Jesus’ exorcisms, which they say challenged the authorities of the day, drew links between personal suffering and unjust powers and liberated the people involved.
The political nature of exorcism has been increasingly recognised in academic biblical studies in recent years.
Earlier in the day, at noon, Christians will join with people of other religions and none for a mass nonviolent protest against the arms fair. Many will also join in with a silent multifaith vigil on the evening of Monday 9 September, as well as events organised by various groups during the week.
Christianity Uncut said that "oppressive and aggressive regimes" such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Colombia and Israel are expected to attend the fair. The government is subsidising DSEi with taxpayers’ money despite the austerity agenda.
“We are all caught up in the system but it is manifest so grossly in this place, where states and corporations gather to profit from violence, tyranny and despair,"
said Rev Dr Keith Hebden, one of those who will perform the exorcism.
Hebden, a Church of England priest in Mansfield, explained, "Just as Jesus called the disciples to cast mountains into the sea, by faith, we hope, by the same faith, to bring an end to terror with a price tag.”
Christianity Uncut are committed to active nonviolence, rejecting both violence and passivity. They insist that they oppose personal abuse and seek to act in a spirit of love for humanity rather than hatred for others.
Last month six national Christian organisations, including the Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the Student Christian Movement (SCM), said that nonviolent direct action would be a moral response to the London arms fair.
DSEi will take place at the Excel Centre from Tuesday 10 until Friday 13 September.
There will be a week of actions opposing the arms fair from Sunday 8 until Friday 13 September, organised by many members of the Stop the Arms Fair Coalition. Please see http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events .