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Setting: the walls between Dimensions have grown thin. This allows malevolent creatures, who for lack of a better term we shall call demons, to enter our world.

Details:

  1. The demons are on unkillable and extremely powerful both physically and supernaturally, but they can be banished. To prevent them from being banished back to their home dimension they often enter and possess the bodies of humans, wearing them as a disguise. This is commonly referred to as possession.
  2. These demons are generic demons and at least don't seem to belong to one particular religion; just about any prayer or ritual or spell can be used against them if:

    2.1. The particular ritual, spell and/or prayer was originally written or devised to be used against demons.

    2.2. The religion or craft that the spell, ritual, or prayer comes from has demons as part of its doctrine and/or mythology.

    2.3. It must be performed by a True Believer/Believers of the particular religion and/or craft.

  3. Any active mal-intent has a small chance of opening a portal and allowing a demon into our world. The larger and more widespread the mal-intent the stronger the possibility of a demon entering into our world. Intention is important here: a person intending to do harm to another person. Accidents therefore don't count.

  4. The demons cannot enter Holy Ground.

Given these changes to our world, would the church become a more powerful player in society? If so, by how much?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jan 19 '17 at 3:02

16 Answers 16

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Atheism takes a big hit.

In this world the group which takes the biggest hit to their belief system is atheists since, well, demons are ripping holes in the universe.

The churches will certainly be strengthened but it's also important to think about which churches would be strengthened the most. Faiths which hold that they are the one true faith and all others are evil, they're going to take a hit when a bunch of Buddhist monks, Sikhs and witchdoctors independently banish demons just like their local pastor.

Being able to banish a demon becomes a proof of being a true believer.

Omnist faiths which hold that other faiths can be true at the same time get a big boost. The Unitarian Universalist Church look like they're on the right track.

A catholic priest might get a hit to his faith when he sees a witch-doctor banish demons with a chant but a Universalist would have their faith affirmed.

The churches would gain power but because every religion shares their abilities none would have a monopoly. Anyone with the right to make ground holy under their religion can compete for contracts to consecrate ground or banish demons so the price should remain reasonable.

Consecrate everything

Demons can't enter holy ground but I'm going on the assumption that if they're summoned within holy ground they don't have to leave.

So split the entire country up into a grid with a few inches between each square. Consecrate every square. Consecrate every square foot of ground. Make everywhere holy but in separate chunks.

In case some of the people doing the blessings aren't true believers make sure to have multiple people bless any one location.

A demon cannot move very far without needing to move into a new patch of consecrated Holy Ground.

That way, if a demon is summoned then it's contained to one chunk, anyone fleeing the demon only has to get a few hundred yards to be totally safe.

This would also solve the problem of possession. Suspect someone? see if they're wiling to go to the coffee place with you over in the consecrated park or get on the bus with you passing over the consecrated crossroads.

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    $\begingroup$ @LorenPechtel that idea has a major flaw: assuming a demon can stay on holy ground when he's getting summoned within it, you suddenly have large parts of the world interconnected by a network on which demons can move, if summoned inside. In addition that network is used by most humans every day. You haven't created quarantine-zones against demons, but a way to get them every where in an efficient way. This could probably work if only the median strip was consecrated, otherwise it's a combustive agent. $\endgroup$ – Paul Jan 17 '17 at 2:37
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    $\begingroup$ Presence of demons ripping holes through universe does not imply existence of higher power (in religious sense) even if prayers work against them. Atheism would take a hit, but it would survive. It might be even driving force in figuring out who the demons are and how to defeat them (science, bitches!) $\endgroup$ – Lope Jan 17 '17 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ Actually Atheism is not about not believing. Atheism is all about not taking the words of believers as a higher truth on faith alone. A-the-ism is: apathy (A-) towards doctrines (-ism) based on faith (-the- or -theo-). Once something can be proved to work through the scientific method, through repeatable and failable experiments, then it is not faith any more... it is scientifically derived knowledge. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jan 17 '17 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ So no, atheism does not take a hit... theism does. For once people no longer need to take the word of religious authority to find the truth about these things, but instead can go out and check for themselves, then the authorities will lose their grip on people, unless they conform to the verifiable truth of the matter. Additionally: the portion of ordained people that are actually charlatans and non-believers will now be exposed for the frauds they are. This will in turn be a black mark on all religious institutions that have granted these people the privilege of ordination. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jan 17 '17 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ @TimB I do not believe you when you say that. ;) Jokes aside: ask people for instance "Do you really believe that just because Jesus was tortured to death 2000 years ago you are now redeemed of your transgressions towards other people, including the one you were born with, if you just believe that?", and I dare say a majority will say "Well... uhm... no... no, Jesus was this nice guy that said lots of nice and wise things. But no... that thing I do not believe. I believe I actually have to behave nice to get into heaven". Yet this is the very core of Christianity. John 3:16, 18. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jan 17 '17 at 13:29
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The Churches will have a monopoly on consecrated ground. To put it crassly, they will clean up in the holy ground real estate market. Simply because demons cannot enter holy ground. Therefore, performing rituals to consecrate ground and tracts of real estate will be at a premium. This will them an incredible amount of status, in all areas of social, economic and political power.

Holy ground will be a defense measure against demon incursions. This will add enormous amounts of value in the property market.

The Churches important players in society? Top of the list, for sure.

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    $\begingroup$ Every corp will need to be part of some church or have one as landlord to avoid liability claims. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 16 '17 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ Alternatively, governments might seize churches and integrate them into military and emergency services, as they've become a vital tool for survival. $\endgroup$ – Oskuro Jan 16 '17 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ @JollyJoker A monoploy on malicious intent? Heavens to Murgatroyd! Church people are too nice for that. :) $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 16 '17 at 11:44
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    $\begingroup$ The Churches will have a monopoly until someone spots that a lot of other religions work just as well. Then there will be a very hot competition. $\endgroup$ – Tom Jan 16 '17 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @a4android History begs to differ, try as the might (and they have), Churches have historically more often than not been integrated into governments, rarely the other way around. In any case, nowhere in the OP does it say their newfound power defends them against conventional weaponry, which, unless said churches had a pre-existing army, would leave them open to assimilation. And if they had an army, then they already were more than just a church (I understand churches in the OP as strictly religious organizations, not sociopolitical conglomerates). $\endgroup$ – Oskuro Jan 16 '17 at 14:18
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Scientists would wipe out all trace of demons so quickly that religions look even more foolish than today.

B. The religion or craft that the spell ritual or prayer comes from has demons as part of its Doctrine, and or mythology.

Science deals with everything that exists, if demons exists; they are part of science "doctrine".

C. they must be performed by a True Believer/Believers in the particular religion and/or craft.

Scientists believe in the scientific method.

4 The demons cannot enter Holy Ground.

A scientist attempts to make the entire universe holy ground.

A. The particular ritual, spell and / or prayer was originally written or devised to be used against demons.

The attempt works since it is made it is made by a true believer with a ritual designed against demons by a craft that includes demons in it's doctrine.

Demons disappear from everywhere; actual visitations are explained away as hysteria or mental illness; religions get laughed at for telling people "demons exist", when clearly there are no demons anywhere.

(Scientific "belief" in demons wane as no demons exist anymore, the "everything is holy"-spell fades and demons can reenter the world.

Let's hope the demons learned from the experience and no longer do silly things like reveal themselves in a misguided attempt at making religions relevant.)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for pointing out that the demons might just sneak around to cause trouble instead of revealing themselves. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Jan 16 '17 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ It has to be part of Pre established doctrien and only things are ready created for fighting demons can work on demons. Also demon don't die so even if you banish them all they would be back. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 17 '17 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ +1 Exactly. If demons exists and there is objective measurable way to deal with them, science will find a way. They are not paranormal anymore - just new normal. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Jan 17 '17 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ If demons actually appear in our world, they are part of the physical/material world and therefore fall under the domain of Science. What we consider to be metaphysical is metaphysical by definition because it doesn't appear in our world. If it did, it would no longer be metaphysical but just flat out physical. $\endgroup$ – Puppy Jan 17 '17 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ The "True Believer" bit might be a problem if that requires absolute faith that the scientist's ritual will work (and possibly even work for the reasons they think it does). A competent scientist always needs to consider the possibility that their data may seem to support their idea, but are actually due to a screwup on their part. Because that will be the case sometimes and they need to figure that out before publishing. A good scientist's tendency to reflexively second guess themselves may make True Belief nearly impossible. $\endgroup$ – Ray Jan 20 '17 at 2:20
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You really want to read the Laundry Files series by Charles Stross. Basically Stross imagines maths (and hence computer science) as a means of carrying out interactions with other planes of existence (and their inhabitants, who are heavily based on HP Lovecraft's mythos). That leads to maths and engineering as magic, but in-universe it puts the magic on a solid theoretical basis. Bob (the Everyman narrator of most of the series) sums up the situation: something like "I know there's One True God. I know his name, and the ways he can be summoned. And I'll be waiting for him with a shotgun - and saving the last shell for myself." The One True God in this case being Cthulhu.

Actual religion relies 100% on the gods and demons not being present in the world. Religion requires belief: proof is antithetical to belief; and hence proof is also antithetical to religion. As Pratchett says, you don't worship a table, because you know it's there.

Whilst individual religions may initially turn out to have some neat tricks in the early days, it'll take very little time before this is properly checked out. (Remember we're on a war footing here - wartime science happens fast, because it's the difference between survival and death!) If all that's required is True Belief, the logical step is for each person to be instructed to find one thing they truly believe in, and channel that when fighting the demons. Belief in a religion is not required - it could equally well be belief in the superiority of Emacs over Vi, belief in the strength of your relationship, or anything. You can fend off the demons just as well by believing that your dog loves you as believing that God loves you!

The Doctor Who series The Curse of Fenric had exactly this premise as a twist on traditional vampires. The Anglican vicar falls victim to the monsters because he doesn't have enough faith in his religion - but the leader of the Russian commandos is a true believer in communism, so he can repel them using the power of his faith in communism. Similarly the Doctor's companion (Ace) uses her faith in the Doctor, and the Doctor uses his faith in his companions generally (chanting names of past companions).

This discovery will greatly weaken religions. To add to their weakness, most people who list themselves as following a religion are not actually True Believers. Religion for most people is actually cultural - your parents did it, so you do it too. So when most religious people turn out to be unable to repel the demons, religions are going to find themselves with a real problem, the same way as anyone who claims to have a vaccine and then discovers it's got a success rate below 50%.

And to further weaken religions, how far you happen to be up your religion's structure is no reflection of belief in your religion - consider Jim Bakker, for example. Previously there was no way of testing how much anyone actually believed in their religion, but repelling demons provides a measurable test of belief. When a lot of leading figures in the various world religions get eaten by demons, that's going to be a pretty high-profile set of failures. (Ironically Jim Bakker's belief in the gullibility of his flock may have been strong enough to get him through! But I digress.)

So ultimately I can't see any of this being a good thing for organised religions. The existence of demons will be as real as the existence of sharks or lions, and defence against them will be just as real as shark nets or rifles. Calling on any particular religion is unnecessary - and not only that, failed attempts to call on a religion will show up how little strength they actually have.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd worship the table if it was omnipotent and commanded me to worship it... Especially if it dished out perks/blessings. $\endgroup$ – SethWhite Jan 16 '17 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ @SethWhite :) But you wouldn't be believing in it as a god, which is the point. I can worship Usain Bolt in the sense of thinking he's better than me at one thing, but not in the sense that he's a mythical being, because we have proof of his existence. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jan 17 '17 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ Do you suppose strong belief in a DC or Marvel character might be enough? $\endgroup$ – Noctis Skytower Jan 17 '17 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @NoctisSkytower Depends on what kind of belief the OP needs. If it's belief in some character being the best, it's entirely possible - check any geeky flamewar for how deeply some people hold those beliefs. :) If it's belief in their existence, probably not. Presumably everyone has something they believe in strongly - the key is working out how to weaponise it as a defence against demons. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jan 18 '17 at 10:21
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It all depends on the ability of the church to strengthen the walls between dimension.

A continuous flow on demons simply shows that the church cannot stop them, and the idea that holy ground is off limits for the demons is useless: the fact that thieves do not break into police stations does not make you safer at home.

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    $\begingroup$ We'll build the wall and make the demons pay for it! (sorry...) $\endgroup$ – Guran Jan 16 '17 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well they won't be breaking into my home. I am believer enough to consecrate ground by these rules. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Jan 16 '17 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Guran What imps truly steal are jobs. $\endgroup$ – Nat Jan 18 '17 at 8:47
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This answer ignores the idea that the demons are banished because they are in league with the church and trying to boost attendence.

If the demons are genuinely banished by "any old prayer", then there must be a part of the prayer that actually works. The most likely reason they work, is because they have a real working component and demons have come to our world before; prayers are simply ancient science from when people were plagued by demons before, carried over through centuries of history. (while adding in a bunch of other myths and nonsense; or maybe the other myths and nonsense are also just dormant today for some reason, like demons were until recently?)

It would make no sense at all that all these prayers work just randomly when none of these religions have seen a demon before. So what will happen is the following:

  • A demon will be captured (they are strong, but not unstoppable, so they can be locked up. In a ring of holy ground, if needed
  • Scientific experiments will be performed on it, until we figure out which part of the religious prayer / true belief is actually affecting them
  • A minimalist "religion" will be created that allows demons to be banished with minimal belief (should this be required at all; we might also figure out an even easier way to do it)
  • The church loses its 15 minutes of fame and will return to being what it's always been

For the record; this is what humans always do when they realize there is something in religion that works. They extract it, they study it and it becomes common knowledge that everyone accepts and no longer has anything to do with religion. Usually these discoveries are in the area of psychology, but there's no reason to believe it will go any different with physical elements.

For an example of how this goes, think about Yoga for example. It used to be religious, then we realized it actually does something useful, and now everyone does it with no religious attachment required.

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Yes, religion becomes influential temporarily

Say a bunch of powerful demon-like creatures appear in the world, causing havoc. People would have all sorts of responses; I'd guess that some would flee into shelters while others would attack the demons with whatever weapons they've got available. And after it becomes apparent that conventional firearms aren't doing the job, the military'll step in - and, given the premise of this question, also fail. Many innocent would die as victims while many noble souls would lose their lives in trying to fend off the demons.

Assuming that the demons can rampage unchecked by conventional means, then they do so until they corner a holy figure, say a priest. The priest says his prayers to Almighty God the Father, asking that his sins be forgiven as he makes his peace before the demon slaughters him. Then, seeing some holy water, the priest splashes the demon, only to see - miraculously - the demon recoil in pain. The priest sees their opening, and uses more holy water - chanting the Our Father, and is perhaps joined by others in his perish, 'til, poof, the demon lets loose a howl of pain and disappears.

But, the priest isn't a selfish man. God in Heaven has spared his life and shown him the way to save countless innocents. He takes to arms, spreading the word of this discovery - first-responders change tactics to employ Hollywood-style religious exorcisms, and it works! The first demonic assault has been repelled.

Initial shock & reaction

The world was just assaulted by demons! People are scared and searching for answers. How can they keep themselves and their loved ones safe? Oh, religion!

Religious sites would become shelters. People who are naturally inclined to serve society as protectors start their religious training, hoping to gain the power to protect others as the holypeople did in the first demonic invasion. Perhaps there are more incidents, and these observations are upheld.

Thinkers put it together

Thinkers, including but not just scientists, start putting together. It's widely observed that there's some sort of relationship between religion and these creatures that appear to be demonic. But, what exactly is that relationship?

  • What exactly determines what is and isn't holy ground?
  • What exactly determines if an exorcism works?
  • What exactly constitutes a "True Believer"?
  • What exactly do demons want?

The question, as stated, doesn't provide us with exact answers to these questions. But, the in-universe thinkers will seek answers and piece it together.

As already observed by other responders on this question, people will then attempt to exploit those rules, whatever they are. For example, if any sort of religion works, people can just create a religion that involves in believing in the idea that demons should go away, and the ritual for exorcism might be saying, in an annoyed tone of voice, "Ugh! Stop possessing people you stupid demon!"

Demons stop being a public danger

After a while, thinkers figure out some sufficiently useful defense against demons, and they stop being a problem. Fear subsides, and that temporary social esteem people had for traditional religion declines, a bit.

There would still be major questions about why these generic demon-like creatures even cared for the hodge-podge of mutually-contradictory beliefs that Earth's various religions represent, which by itself is a strange thing. Some people might think that you, the author, exist - since, why else would something so stupid dramatic happen without any apparent connection to reality as they've known it? You, the author, would become a plausible physical force in the universe, and people might start to speculate on what weird thing you'll do next to make the story more interesting.

The research continues

While the people of this world have figured out a working defense, researchers will always want to learn more, improve existing solutions, and discover new options. Some will try to optimize whatever solution they've got to make it easier, cheaper, and more reliable. For example, why exactly does holy water hurt them, and what is the minimal quality needed for something to have that property?

Others will want to study the demons. What are there? Where were they from? What the heck were their bodies made out of? If captured and contained, could we use the material from their bodies to build new tools? If launched into the sun, would a demon survive there, being constantly blown around by the onslaught of nuclear explosions? What about if thrown into a super-massive black hole?

Others would want to study the physics that the demons imply. For example, we don't know how to teleport, but apparently the demons do. How are they doing that? If we could reverse-engineer whatever a demon's body does, we might be able to make teleportation devices, along with all of the insane technologies teleportation would enable.

Others would seek to dominate demons. What they want, if they bother to come to Earth in the first place? What do they fear? What set of incentives and threats could you impose upon a demon to force them into obedience? And since demons seem to obey rules from traditional fiction, then can they be controlled through traditional mythic means, e.g. by saying their "true name"?

End game: New scientific knowledge, advanced technology, and Pok'e'mon

So, there was the initial onslaught and panic. Then there was a period of time in which demons were a curiosity to be studied. Now, it's the distant future - demons are old news. They've been around forever, and people know everything about them. Their biology's been reverse-engineered to produce teleportation devices, so people explore the universe, protected by suits of whatever made the demons so resistant to damage.

And, somewhere, there're kids playing with Pok'e'balls. Because, a thousand years ago, there was a game called Pok'e'mon, and when people figured out how to control demons, gamers thought it'd be funny to create brightly-color balls that capture demons and force them to fight.

Legends say that there are at least 150,000,000 kinds of demons. Wikipedia's got a section where you can add information on the kinds you've collected.

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  • $\begingroup$ it would be interesting to see a world where religion and science have molded together I wonder how each would change the other and how the culture would reflect that change. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 18 '17 at 20:08
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Basically: Whatever your story requires.

Based on your assumptions, an argument can be made that the church becomes very powerful. They provide the sole defenses of humanity against these evils. This would give them immense influence, money, etc.

On the other hand, you can also argue that the fact that any religious ritual can be used for banishing as long as it satisfies the criteria, it won't take long until an old pagan ritual (Europe was never 100% christianized) or a jewish ritual, or an imported islamic, african or whatever they believed elsewhere - is shown to work just as fine, people would find themselves at a point where the power of the church is demonstrably real, but so are other powers, breaking the monopoly of the church. This could conceivably weaken the church politically despite having more actual power (against demons-that-are-now-real).

Both could happen, so pick whichever your story needs.

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  • $\begingroup$ and of course the church could also be destroyed as satanism takes over, claiming (and maybe even having) the power to negotiate deals with the demons to leave its adherents alone. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Jan 18 '17 at 7:58
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The Church Would Lose

The other answers generally assume the Church would become more powerful. However, this assumes that the Church wins. Humans are quite capable of doing evil even without manipulation by supernatural powers. Demons would presumably be quite adept at quietly manipulating humans dark desires towards their ends without the need to do anything overtly demonic.

The demons would presumably have had no difficultly taking over the Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany wouldn't be much harder. As other answers mention there are ways of humans detecting demons. However, if demons are repelled by true belief then it is trivial for demons to find the faithful.

There is no need for the demons to play their cards openly and let the general population know that they are taking over the world. If they are repelled by someone's faith, they leave them well alone, and just pass their name along to the secret services. Holy ground is no barrier to someone who is just following orders.

Would democracies with strong Christian heritage fare much better? Donald Trump was elected despite Pope Francis claiming Trump was not Christian. President-Elect Trump has inherited Obama's massive assassination drone network, Bush's extra-constitutional Guantánamo Bay and a commitment to eliminate religious extremism in the Middle East. Regardless of Trump's actual agenda, if the demons wanted to define all Muslims with true belief as extremists and use the power of the US military to eradicate them, I don't think that there is much the Church could do.

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  • $\begingroup$ to be fair most of America is not Catholic so I'm not sure how the Pope's denunciation or recommendation of him would have had any effect on the election as a whole. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 18 '17 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanMcClure True. If all the churches worked together to denounce Trump that presumably would have an effect. But getting all the churches to work together isn't necessarily easy. They mostly don't burn each other at the stake anymore, but if some random pastor claims to have exorcised a devil, most of them will just assume he's nuts. $\endgroup$ – gmatht Jan 20 '17 at 9:09
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I guess your asking how much influence the church would have in general society as an institution if demons like you described roamed the land. There are several angles to look at this in, starting with questions like these:

How suscebtible are people to adhere to or join a church society given the circumstances? I definitely think more people would become a part of a given church if things like demons were manifest and readily known. In general there are a lot of people who irl have a connection to the church in one way or another, wether it be through faith or traditions, like wedding ceremonies, family traditions etc. That tie would've likely translated to a necassary societal bind (much like school, workplace and general law is today), if something like demons would've been roamed the land. In essence Church (as well as Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, maybe even generel libraries, and so forth) would be a necassary institution for most people, in the worldly and much more readily tangible sense, as they're now doing more than "merely" cultivating faith in people, but are actually providing a service which can be readily seen, felt and heard by all people, not only those who believe. The seperation of Church and State, would, for a majority I think, likely be met with the same skepticism as if you thought of seperating police, hospitals or schooling from the State (in their entirety, which is rare to agree with even if you're for a small government). You would likely "belong" to a given Church (or faith society) the same way you belong to a school today. People might generally try to join prestitious Churches within a given faith, and a kind of scholarly and executionary clergy would definitely be ever more present, mingled in with society as a whole instead of being seperate from it. Other people would likely hop to much "freer" and less administrated societies likely still based on some kind of faith or belief. Things like Omnist-societies, New Spiritual-societies, heck even things like Satanist- and Illuinati-like society groups might be risen from people doing a counter-movement.

Which kind of church societies would there be and how would that shape the general society? As said before, churches would maybe be their own central institutions in midst of society. In general there would likely be a lot of different Church-societies, with a lof of different political programs and agendas, and even more different kind of churches might've sprung up as a result of the Demons' manifestations. In general, you can likely chalk the catholic and protestant churches to have become the strongest churches in the western world. The Catholic church societies would likely implement a stronger presence of ceremonies, rules and general catholic faith-traditions throughout the society that they are a part of. In essence you could take is as an analogue of when the catholic church used to be as influental as the political court, but with a somewhat more modern understanding and consequent implementation. The protestant societies would likely be a bit more apprehensive, although things like church-going, prayer and schooling would be made a part of the norm for most people instead of being more personal.

The severity of all of this kinda depends on how severe the Demon-problem is. These ideas are kinda taken in the stongest case. I believe the church would definitely be a part of the political landscape, and would have as much influence as say the army, the education or banking wold have. That being said, it's difficult how manifest demons would shape the churches current faith-traditions. I personaly don't think much would've changed with the current large christian religions, but rather other church-societies and counter-movements would've sprung up. Another things to keep in mind is how the demons would've shaped religions throughout time and how the current religions would've looked as a consequence. I haven't taken that into account, justly because it needs a much more thorough analysis to be done well.

TL:DR, The church would be a central institution in society for most people, much like police and schools. Church-traditions would bleed out to the general people, and church would have a strong seat in politics with same influence as other strong institutions.

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Really strong

And not least because of the demons confirming that religions are real.

There are many parameters, but I assume that the existence of demons would not collapse the society; so not a dooms day scenario. What needs to be understood about the demons is that they are pure evil; they will cause destruction for the sake of destruction, they have no similar sense of utility to co-operate with the mankind, there is no political solution to be made with them. To make a scenario where the civilization does not decay, the people must be stronger than the demons.

It would probably revive exorcism stronger than ever. The church would get more money directly from the government. Governments would probably revive state churches, because the strong church would be a must have and they need to pay for it. Catholic church would regain again it's Empire with the power of exorcist divisions and a state church status. Powerful churches would probably engage against each other, depending on how much resources the demons are taking.

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No, it would not be powerful at all. "The Church" wouldn't be special at all and effect would show that the truth is something completely different from what is preached in Abrahamic Religions and then there is the fact that people could and would just ask demons what the truth is...

Your limitation of "true believer" isn't really important because I'm an atheist but if a demon appeared in front of me I'd believe it in as much as could be said about it and that belief would be true so any "banishment" would be effective. And the Holy ground thing is problematic in that it is just land that someone finds sacred/holy. I as a naturalist find the Earth as a whole sacred and as such no Demon could spawn on Earth.

So "The Church" would actually become weaker, not stronger, and the rules would make the entire situation a rather moot situation.

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In this type of world, police is pretty much useless for demonic matters so I would say the church would become very powerful and an indispensable part of the society.

They would participate in the organization and defense of entire cities / countries, there would be whole countries controlled by a religion. This would also cause discrepancies and even wars between different countries that claim to have the best religion or the most effective against demons depending on how good each country / religion is in removing demonds from their society.

Maybe there would even exist special monk services like the SWAT team but for demonic matters.

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Your question doesn't indicate to what degree the general population is aware that this situation occurs or to what extent the malevolent actions manifest. In current society, the demons could come through a thin veil and the average person may have no idea the mishaps are caused by demonic action because the demons are in diguise as the person they possess, and therefore people simply believe the possessed person does bad things and not the "demon". Even with religions of all kinds telling people the demons exist and how to banish them, the general masses do not truly believe it, and therefore create their own explanation of why the bad things happen. The people who are specially trained to recognize demonic possession activity (the holy leaders of the religions) and some simply very wise or observant lay folks are the only ones who will do the banishing, and you will end up with exactly the amount of church power we see today.

The church will have the amount of power given to them by the unknowing who allow belief in their religion to take away malevolent forces from their lives, and the wise observant individuals who recognize the demonic cause of malevolent forces in their lives will banish them on their own, retaining this power for themselves and those in their own circles that they wish to help.

The level of demonic activity recognition and banishment can occur most often symbolically (you give the church financial and volunteerism support and it gives you peace of mind and joy if you follow the religion's tenets) or more rarely literally (you explain to the holy person the bad situation and they perform an exorcism or give you the passages to read that will do the same - which in some religions they do free of charge and others there is a fee for this service).

The symbolic and literal recognition and banishment can also occur for the self-empowered individuals, just on a smaller scale, such as counseling and advising a desperate friend of a positive action to resolve their situation, or actively praying and specifically commanding the demon to exit the friend's body. Of course, this would happen more often in that individual's own life as it is easiest to recognize a malevalent force in one's own life.

The symbolic methods of banishment work without the people believing specifically in a corporeal "demon" because they simply believe in the symbolic name given to the demon (pick a sin/vice: addiction, wrath, selfishness, jealousy, vanity, greed, etc) and they also believe in the method of banishment (insert whatever virtue/good habit the religion in use recommends).

The literal methods of banishment work because the world builder says they do.

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It all depends on the intent for your story.

  1. You could go one way with established religions becoming more powerful. Since the before paranormal (demons) becomes established now, religions have proof of their validity. Why aren't angels helping us? Simple: Our priests, clerics, druids etc. have the needed power, since there are many many more than angels. This would in effect look more like the presence of religions and clerics in classig high fantasy worlds, e.g. Faerûn from D&D.

  2. Since we have proof of the (formerly) paranormal in the form of demons now, scientists will have a field day. This has become a war against demons, the military will fund research and the invasions will be repelled after a short while. Time to show those demons who's the boss. This would probably go more along the lines of The Salvation War.

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Since all religions are made up (Heyo! We've got an atheist here!) and the only requirement for banishing the daemons is that one must be a true believer of a religion which has daemons in it and use rituals aimed at banishing daemons, there's really nothing that bars people from making their own religions just to banish the daemons.

I could make a religion worshipping a moldy old meatball. This may not sound like a serious religion, but religions can have just about any rules. I make a religion having the rule that true believers must not take the religion too seriously, and voila, we've got a religion in which just about anyone can be a true believer.

Really, the requirements for banishing daemons in your universe are so loose that I don't see why a religion is required at all. I see the daemon, I now truly believe in the daemon, I say "daemon, go away" and the daemon is banished because I founded a belief in daemons in a matter of seconds and made a ritual to banish it on the spot.

But maybe this is just based on my own views, which don't lend much credit to religions in the first place...

I think some of the other answers are saying the same thing, but in more roundabout ways. I wanted to say this in a more direct way.

tl;dr: Banishing daemons too easy. No need religion.

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    $\begingroup$ You are more or less ignoring the OP's stated conditions. He says that spells must be 'written or devised' to deal with a demon, you can't just believe in a demon and banish it. Also, the OP states that a 'True Believer' is required. If your answer ignores these conditions then it basically isn't an answer, its just a statement vaguely related to the original post. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 18 '17 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion your comment has pretty much summed up what is wrong with this answer. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 18 '17 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion My answer is all about how those conditions were all too loose and vague to put in place any actual limitations. What constitutes being a true believer, for example? If I see a daemon with my own eyes then I will truly believe in that daemon's existence and I can form a religion around it, making me a true believer of that religion. Also, if I say "daemon, go away" then that spell IS devised to deal with a daemon. I have fulfilled the asker's stated conditions! $\endgroup$ – Kapten-N Jan 19 '17 at 7:43

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