Today in Demonology

Feature: Rocky Twyman prays for an exorcism of Washington—all of Washington

• July 29, 2013 10:30 am


Rockefeller "Rocky" Ludwig Twyman hasn't witnessed an exorcism in 12 years. But he's convinced it's the Beltway's only option.

On Friday morning, I attend Twyman's three-hour vigil at the White House gate in Lafayette Square. He holds a sign proclaiming, "AMERICA!! STOP! JOIN US IN PRAYER—TELL OBAMA TO INVITE POPE/OTHER LEADERS FOR AN EXORCISM OF DEMONS IN WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS."

Here’s how Twyman sees it: Pope Francis takes a layover in Washington on his way back from World Youth Day in Brazil; he and other religious leaders perform exorcisms at the White House and Capitol Building; demons flee in terror.

"We’re all susceptible to the Devil’s tricks, but politicians are especially vulnerable. They tend to deceive to get ahead, to promise things they know can’t come to pass," he says.

An eavesdropping tourist to his left chimes in, "They don’t care about you—they care about power."

"We’ll know it worked if both parties start working together to pass critical bills that impact jobs," Twyman goes on. But he admits mass convulsions can’t be ruled out. "I’d take that as a good sign."

"Maxine Waters got this whole thing going," he says. "I don’t know why she wouldn’t want to take the lead on this."

Waters, displaying the spirit of bonhomie and bipartisanship for which she is famous, said in February 2012: "I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens [at the California State Democratic Convention]. Don't ever let me see again, in life, those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons."

Waters did not respond to Twyman’s invitation to the rally.

He sees demons at work in most hot button issues: sequestration, the debt ceiling, unemployment, the August recess. Possession, Twyman says, crosses party lines.

"Paul Ryan, you look at his budget. Whenever you see non-compassion for the masses—that’s a sign of possession."

Opposition to trillion-dollar deficits doesn’t turn up in Catholicism’s Rite of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications, which outlines the criteria for possession. But Ryan does have "physical strength beyond what is possible considering a person's age"—a leading indicator of Satanic influence.

Twyman launched Pray at the Pump (PAP) in 2008 after high gas prices impeded volunteers from reaching Washington’s First Church soup kitchen. He began touring the country singing, "He’s got lower gas prices in His hands/He’s got the whole world in His hands" in front of the nation’s gas stations. The movement’s success led Twyman to expand. Over the last four years he’s hosted prayer meetings for Nelson Mandela, Aretha Franklin, and others.

"I’ve never sat down and counted all our victories," he says. "We can’t take credit; God did it."

Satan is a worthier adversary than speculators in the crude oil futures market, making the exorcism PAP’s most ambitious project yet. Twyman wears a peanut butter-stained button down, rather than a clerical collar, which is why he needs the head of the world’s "premier exorcism religion" to intervene.

He’s got the basic theology. Casting out demons played a chief role in Jesus’ ministry—the first miracle documented in Mark's Gospel was an exorcism. But the devil’s in the details, and Rocky, a Seventh-day Adventist, is short on those.

Even if Pope Francis accepts the invitation, a prayer at the Capitol steps may only cure the most minor demonic activity: infestation, or the presence of demons in a place. Eliminating personal possession, the most serious spiritual torture, requires months and even years of tireless prayer and intercession from the Holy Spirit, saints, and the Virgin Mary. Priests can only begin the rite after multiple psychiatrists conduct exhaustive probes for mental illness.

"I know Congress isn’t going to submit to psychological tests," Twyman says. "Just getting the Pope here would be a start. You have Boehner and Pelosi. They’re Catholic; they could work together to bring their members."

He says he emailed the Vatican without success, but hopes to get an audience with the Pope when he travels to Rome in 2014. Neither Boehner nor Pelosi responded to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment.

Logistics are another concern. In the Bible’s most memorable exorcism, Jesus cast one man’s demons into 2,000 pigs, which then drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee.

"My name is Legion; for we are many," the demon said.

And you think traffic is bad now: Washington would require nearly 30 million hogs in the event that Legion possessed all of the nearly 15,000 people employed by the White House and Congress. (Four hundred sixty WH staffers and the president plus 23 Cabinet members plus 6,804 House staffers plus 7,000 Senate staffers plus 535 reps and senators equals 14,823; multiply that by 2,000 and you get 29,646,000.)

That would represent 26 percent of all swine killed in 2013, according to July’s Department of Agriculture estimates. Twyman may have to woo the pork lobby and PETA along with Boehner and Pelosi.

PAP’s inability to penetrate the Catholic or Beltway hierarchy is what led Rocky Twyman to take his message to Lafayette Square. And yet there’s no sign of PAP when I show up Friday at the 11 a.m. start time.

Wade Montgomery, Rocky Twyman’s 58 year-old prayer partner, soon arrives. Wade’s healthy complexion, soothing baritone, and eschatological expertise belie his dire need for kidney and liver transplants. He can attend only because the White House is on the way to dialysis.

Twyman opens with an invocation, but conversation soon turns to RGIII’s charitable habits and the Royal Baby. Occasionally Rocky engages onlookers.

"There are demons everywhere," he says to one family. "Call the White House. We need to drive these demons out."

The mother tugs at the arm of a girl whose pink-framed glasses settled onto Twyman’s sign for a moment too long.

Before launching PAP, Rocky represented hospitals, nonprofits, and the Boy Scouts. He retired two years ago to focus on prayer and bone marrow activism—a deathbed promise to a friend.

After some unsuccessful pitches to the tourist crowd, Rocky-Twyman-the-Street-Preacher morphs into Rocky-Twyman-the-Retired-PR-Man. He stops shouting and starts asking passers-by where they’re from and what their kids are studying. From North Carolina to New Orleans, Florida to Georgia, he can identify a local church, landmark, and newscaster. He offers astute career advice to the future psychologists, doctors, reporters, and lawyers who cross his path. Soon enough they ask him for his card and he promises to stay in touch.

Then comes the invitation to prayer. Heads bow, eyes close.

"Oh God, thank you for this day and for bringing these prayer warriors to Washington. We pray that you will bless their trip. Thank you for this energetic young reporter here with us. We pray that you will hold us in your unchanging hands and bless us," he says before bellowing, "And Lord, we pray that you will drive the demons out of Congress and the White House."

The line raises some eyebrows, but is generally well received.

"Drive all the demons out everywhere," one Florida preacher’s daughter adds.

"You have to say in Jesus’ name," a North Carolina Baptist prompts.

Of all the protesters and petition peddlers who accost D.C. pedestrians daily, Rocky Twyman is among the least irritating. Three sheets of blank printer paper fill his binder. He’s indifferent to your email address; just sign your name so he can pray for you. All he asks in return is that you pray three times a day for federal exorcism.

A Baptist choir member was supposed to turn the rally’s company into a crowd. She never shows, so Rocky invites Michael Jones to join us.

Michael Jones left prison on July 22 after serving eight years. He discovered upon returning home that his mother had died of breast cancer. He doesn’t pay rent for the bench he sleeps on at the Eisenhower Building, so he spent the $50 he earned through prison labor on shoe shine equipment.

Wade’s Nikes, my boat shoes, and Rocky’s black sneakers offer no business opportunities. Jones refuses to panhandle, but saw the sign and said he hoped "some true Christians" might pray for him.

Rocky Twyman prays for the late Mrs. Jones. He prays for Mr. Jones, says he is a "God-fearing man whose heart is in the right place."

Michael Jones, who is still wearing his prison ID bracelet, looks up. He's crying.

Twyman ends the prayer and opens his wallet to Michael Jones. He withdraws a petition paper and writes down the information for a homeless shelter, a job placement agency, and a prayer hotline. Then Michael Jones, who spent the better part of a decade suppressing any sign of weakness in high-security United States Penitentiary Lewisburg, goes on his way, tears streaking his face.

When I introduced myself to Twyman, he marveled at God’s work. I could give him the publicity he needed to get the Pope here, he said.

"God puts people in our way as a blessing."

I don’t think I was the person God sent Rocky Twyman that day.

Published under: Congress