Busted Halo
September 29th, 2008

Busted: Ryan Buell

Paranormal State's investigator talks about God, Catholicism and the spirit world


Religion and the Paranormal
Buell is aware some Catholics are uncomfortable with his combination of Catholicism and the paranormal. There are also the paranormal investigators who say he should leave religion out of it. Buell is firm on this issue. “If you believe in spirits, there’s got to be a God,” he says.

Still, some Roman Catholic clergy are concerned about his controversial use of psychics in dealing with haunted dwellings.

“Making use of someone who is frequently in communication with the ‘spirit world’ is extremely dangerous,” said Fr. Francis Tiso, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The only preternatural voice that the people of God are to listen to is the voice of God. Other voices can be deceptive.”

Fr. John Gerth, a pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. Petersburg, also sees the danger.

“Dabbling in cooking or writing the great American novel are relatively safe,” he said. “Dabbling in the spirit world is not, unless you are properly disposed in mind, body and spirit. If people were to get involved with evil forces unexpectedly and without proper disposition of their own souls, it can be really bad. Worst case scenario, they could be in need of an exorcist themselves.”

Buell is aware some Catholics are uncomfortable with his combination of Catholicism and the paranormal, but he is firm on this issue. “If you believe in spirits, there’s got to be a god,” he says.

Still, Tiso, who studied exorcism while ministering in Italy and assisted Fr. Cipriano de Meo, the Puglia region’s exorcist, said the worst can be avoided: “I think the safest thing for Ryan to do is to confine his work to research on well documented case histories, to learn from experienced exorcists, to travel to other cultures where exorcism and trance states can be observed, to study the documentation on the lives of the saints.”

Tiso also noted, “A layperson can always offer prayers for a fellow human being who is suffering from some illness or spiritual distress. That is part of being a Christian. However, only an authorized exorcist is allowed to address the presumed demonic force and command it to leave.”

Buell says he can’t ignore the pleas of a person who is plagued by the paranormal. “I do not believe for a second that God’s condemning the work I’m doing.”

Support within the Church
Not all members of the Catholic faith see Buell’s attitude as cause for alarm. Fr. Bob Bailey, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Parish in Pawtuckett, R.I., worked on two cases with the PRS during Paranormal State’s second season.

“I really support what they’re doing,” said Bailey. “The usual occurrence after death is heaven, hell or purgatory. What we’re dealing with are anomalies. We don’t understand them right now.”

Bailey does make a point of clarifying he doesn’t mean they aren’t real. “Because so many people have had experiences, we have to admit there is paranormal activity out there, and that doesn’t go against our Catholic faith. I don’t find my work at all in contradiction to our Catholic faith,” he said.

Buell invited Bailey, who is not an exorcist, to bless a house for one episode of Paranormal State, and to pray for deliverance over a client in another. The difference between the rite of exorcism and the prayer of deliverance, Bailey said, is that exorcism is for people who are completely possessed by evil, who are violent and have lost free will.

Deliverance, he said, is for people who are oppressed by evil—and that attracted him to the paranormal long before Buell invited him to work with PRS. “I’ve always had an interest in helping with the paranormal,” he told me. “I have permission [from my bishop] to go out and help paranormal groups.”

The Real Deal
Many people, including Bailey, believe PRS is the real deal.

“What you see [on TV] is what you get,” Bailey said. “[Buell] spends the bulk of his time with the client. He’s extremely compassionate and I think he really makes them feel at ease. He’s also humble. When he called me up to counsel, he stayed right in the background. He let me do my thing. I consider it a privilege to work with him.”

Buell said that his signs of the cross, his prayers and the blessed medallions are for real, too, with or without A&E’s cameras capturing them. He goes to mass a couple of times a month, and sets aside time to pray and reflect on days that he doesn’t. He gives up something each year during Lent, and never tells anyone what it is. He likes his Catholic faith to feel personal.

“I’m by no means a cheerleader Catholic,” he told me. “I don’t go to mass every week, I don’t pray the rosary, and I don’t think God is a Catholic God.”

But he does think God is calling him to be a paranormal investigator.

“I believe I’m meant to be helping these people,” Buell said. “If anyone’s doing something morally wrong, God will figure that out.”

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The Author : Arleen Spenceley
Arleen Spenceley is a freelance writer from the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Joel Trevino

    Sorry to hear about his fight against cancer. I too find myself in somewhat the same boat. We are not catholic, we’re Presbyterian. My mom and dad had us grow up in church. Sunday school, morning service, sunday evening service, Wednesday service and what we called “house services”, where the members of our church would gather at a different members house, once a week and do an abridged version of a service. I am a gay man and new so since my earliest memory. I too, am a sufferer of the paranormal. I’ve been able to see the dead since I was 7 or so. Going through church, my best friend was the pastors son and our families always got together and shared life with each other. I was active in my church, from putting on Christmas plays, as a child, to giving the sermon on youth day. A day when the youth of the church took over Sunday morning service. I guess you could say I was being groomed for seminary, even more so than the pastors son. I am also of Latin descent, so being gay was the greatest injury. Yet, I found myself at peace with my God. I know that He accepts me as I am, since He mad me this way. I learned hate in school, hate against me for being “gay”. Now, I try to help people anyway I can, when it comes to the paranormal. I had and to a point, still have a relationship, of sorts, with the dark side. I have learned how to make them leave me alone, when I wish them to and I have and continue to have a strong relationship with God and the Light. When my Dad passed, I was the one that gave the eulogy and all the time I was up there, I could see the tips of brilliant white wings out from either side. I could not only see the presence of Angels but feel them, sometimes going to my knees at the glory of their presence. I know that God is with me gay or straight. He walks with me and has seem me through some very hard times in my life. I never forget that He is with me. I say this because even now, as gay as I am, I still feel the presence of God with me, which is great, since I have also seen and felt the presence of the dark one around me. My ability to see and speak with the dead has helped some families and friends to find comfort. I find it silly when I hear doubters say that there is no God or Devil and that they do not believe it. I always remind them that neither God or Satan NEED you to believe in them, to exist. I have seen and felt the heaviness of the drkness and have seen the power and glory of the light, my sexuality not withstanding. God really Is there and He loves you as you are, regardless of what some narrow minded men and women who stand behind the pulpit. I wish Ryan all the best in his fight against cancer and I will talk with the Big Guy upstairs about sending someone over, to keep an eye on you too. Health, my brother in Christ.

  • isabel

    really i think mr. Buell should’nt play around with serious stuff. shame on you mr. Ryan Buell

  • vicki padgett

    I hope somehow i can learn to use my gift the way Ryan has. i never dreamed i would look forward to every single day paranormal State comes on, let alone allow myself to use my gift to help solve a missisng young mans where a bouts. i am humbled by Ryans quietness and ability to be so forthcoming and share his gift with so many who see him as honest and real.I will truely miss him and the show.

  • Michael R.

    Megan, you claim your not a Christian but you make more sense than most of these people who claim to be Christian. And may be closer to God then you think….word of advice for you sweetheart, keep reading the Bible and well…be a Christian, Jesus loves You and is calling you. No worries! I know it doesn’t seem like it from this blog but if you get into a good Christian Church you will find that they are some of the most compassionate and loving people you will ever meet!

  • Michael R.

    Nathan has the most truthful comment in this discussion. The majority of you people who call yourselves Christians need to read your Bibles and study the Word and, figuratively speaking, regroup. Don’t just pick out a verse or a paragraph or a chapter, but read the whole thing in context. You will find out how misconstrued some of your interpretations are. If you profess to be Christian than you must hold to the revelation of truth in Gods Word. I find it amazing how people who claim to believe in Jesus, refuse to listen to what He actually said and use His words as a counter argument ammunition to suite their watered down, politically correct flaky “tolerant” new age belief system. They take statements such as “Judge not lest ye be judged” and interpret it as “All paths are paths to God”, or the parable about the “splinter in your brothers eye” as an attempt to shut down the evangelist and make his position invalid. These wavering souls then condemn true Christians who actually read their Bibles and understand His true message. They turn our Lord into some easy going, cotton candy, hippie who didn’t really mean what He said. He meant every Word He spoke. He is the Incarnate Word sent on behalf of the Father for our benefit. He never said anything about purgatory and spoke often about hell, so to be Christian and not believe in hell is counterintuitive to your faith. (assuming you have faith at all). I don’t care if you “don’t want to be controlled by fear” and “the threat of fire and brimstone”, its real and the only way out is through Christ’s sacrifice. He knew this, and loved us enough to give us “the way” , thats why the main thing He spoke was faith! “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword” (Matthew 10:34) That means division among the people who believe and don’t. Also is there anywhere in the Bible where Jesus helped dead human souls “move on” or advocated the use of divination or psychic mediums, or necromancy? No, on the contrary, He condemned all this as sorcery, which its power is from the devil, but there is many stores of casting out demons. What makes you so sure that these spirits are human and not shapeshifting demons parading as dead relatives to deceive you and vex your faith? Think about the possible risk involved if you are wrong. Why even entertain the idea if such consequences could result? Are you that confident in your own empowerment that you reject the authority and power of the one true God that gives life to all His creatures? Let me tell you demons are real, I’ve seen them, and the Gospel is truth whether you believe it or not. The same evangelists who you say are “judging” or are not “tolerant” of other beliefs, are the same people who might be saving your lives. Don’t get mad at the fireman who is saving you from the fire, simply cause he woke you up! Anyway its not judgmental because the authority was handed down as a command from Christ Himself to all who believe “to go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. Matthew 28:19 “Realize that whoever brings a sinner back from the error of his ways will save him from death, and many sins will be forgiven.” James 5:20 I pray that Almighty God Bless you to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and that His Mercy and Grace lead you to understanding and encourage you to read His Word. That you may come to find peace in the joy of salvation and His everlasting love through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen

  • Mary Jane Mccamant

    I have to say this grumbling over Ryan’s well intentional work is disturbing. Religious theories are argued for centuries. The Bible misquoted,misused, and miscopied.Hatred of those who do not believe the same as you do. Killings in the name of religion should remind all Christians that we must be tolerant of others beliefs. Ryan Buell has no other agenda than his quest to define “supernatural”. Demonic forces? How strange when Jesus on the third day after his death descended into hell to face the devil. So he would not have power over us. I do not fear for Jesus fought that battle once why should we continue this fight? It seems that some do not put their faith in God. Having said that I would like to point out that strange phenomenon have and do occur we can explain it away with magnetic fields and science and one would be right in some cases. There is that percentage when all things checked out lead to unknown forces. My belief is that when a tragedy happens such as a murder, a hologram similar to a photo is stamped onto the scene. Think of the first photos people 600 years ago would have thought that was magic not possible. We know today it is possible. There is much between heaven and earth not dreamt in your own philosophy.

  • Megan

    Alright people listen up here, there are no “ghosts” and no I’m not a christian I’m just someone that is barely getting to know the bible. These “ghosts” are demonic forces. Forces that are REALLY smart and manipulative and why would’nt they be? Satan and the fallen angels are not that stupid. They have dooped the world and the people into thinking that ghosts are people that have passed on…….but they are not, just read the bible, there are NO people that stay on earth, they’re tricksters dont let them doop you too.

  • Kaye

    July 9, 2012
    Who cares? His sexuality is between him and God. I just loved his TV series, Paranormal State. I wish he would do another TV series as good as this one. Miss you, Ryan. Hope you come back to TV!

  • Matt

    Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. agreed with Nick thou shalt not judge

  • Matt

    There is one thing that people failed to realize , what Ryan trying to do is, explore the unknown, paranormal, skeptical-ism or non believer kept your opinion to yourself,I would say that most of you enjoyed the show much because it is not what the ordinary people do and it way beyond your comprehension , 1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” .1 Corinthians 13:12″Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” remember you are not perfect ! thou shalt not judge agreed with Nick.

  • Nick

    The Bible says”judge not lest ye be judged” so please stop judging each other. I wish we would all just love and help our neighbor’s instead of bashing our neighbors because their beliefs are different. We all can read a verse from the bible and get many different opinions as to what it means. This is one of the things that makes the bible so wonderful, so many people with different problems can be helped by the same verse from the bible.

  • Mason

    It May be where I’m not some what familiar with the different faiths of relegion, but this comment I seen made me wonder. I personally believe there is a god and do believe in the paranormal. The comment was that the earth is good and that hell will not be on it that it’s as far away as you can think. So if it’s so good why the genocides, hunger, rapist, terrorist etc? Seems to me to be a lot of evil. Then again I’m reminded of all the good, so I’m just curious and it’s a serious question.

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