Pastor Rooies Strauss claims he “frees” people from the demons of autism and homosexuality (YouTube)
A pastor from Groblershoop in the Northern Cape has ignited controversy with his prayers aimed at supposedly exorcising demons that he claims cause autism, depression, and homosexuality.
Rapport recently exposed the dangerous activities of Rooies Strauss, described as both a crocodile farmer and a preacher, who boasts over 83,000 followers on Facebook.
In a YouTube video, Strauss is seen praying for a young man who appears to have autism. “This guy was highly autistic. Thank you, Lord. Out, autism!” he exclaimed as the man fell backwards.
Strauss, who admits he is not a medical expert, appears to not be aware that autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.
In the video, Strauss also asserts that the devil “steals intelligent people,” which is “why there are so many homosexuals in the arts.”
Strauss told Rapport that he knew of many cases of “homosexuals who have been set free,” but he added that many choose “not to be set free.”
South African environmentalist and TV presenter David Pepler condemned Strauss’ “reckless” comments on Facebook, stating that “attributing autism and homosexuality to demons is truly evil.”
Responding to the Rapport article in a video, Strauss welcomed the media exposure as free advertising for his cause. He claimed to have worked in the police, investigating Satanism, and said he had his own demons driven out by another pastor.
Strauss, who recently returned from missionary work in Ukraine, reiterated that people who suffer from autism, depression, and homosexuality come to him because “they want to be set free.”
He revealed that in his youth, he used to make jokes about gay people until he started working with them and witnessed their pain, including those who “were molested and became homosexuals.” Today, he said, “I work with them, I cry with them, I feel sorry for them, and I help them – and many have been set free.”
Strauss also insisted that “no one is born homosexual,” asserting that “there are demonic elements involved [in homosexuality].”
Attempting to change or “cure” someone’s sexuality through prayer or exorcism is a form of conversion therapy, which is based on the false belief that homosexuality is immoral, an illness, or a deviation.
Conversion therapy has been discredited by mental health and human rights groups, including the World Psychiatric Association, as ineffective and harmful. It is associated with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide.