A Whole Town of Mediums

By Mark A. Kellner

It’s smack dab in the middle of nowhere—or pretty close to there—but every summer, the sleepy town of Lily Dale, New York, in the western part of the “upstate” region, far above the bright lights of New York City, becomes a beehive of spiritualist activity.

According to The New York Times, an estimated 22,000 people flock to Lily Dale during the “season,” which extends from the end of June to just before Labor Day. Some visitors are merely tourists hoping to view the 139-year-old town, but others seek to communicate with deceased relatives and loved ones.

One person who had an appointment with a medium was Karen Mitchell, a hairdresser from Seattle, Washington. She told the newspaper of a desire to communicate with her mother, who’d died six months earlier, and her deceased grandfather. “I miss him dearly,” Mitchell, is quoted as saying. “I feel like maybe I’m going to connect with myself in a different way.”

Indeed, a big part of the marketing of Lily Dale’s mediums—52 of which are registered with the local association—is the ability to connect people with a relative or with a healing spirit; the town’s “Forest Temple” featured what the newspaper called “hands-on healing on a first-come-first-served basis.”

But even the true believers, in this case medium John White, a self-described “medical intuitive,” cautioned that the healing insights can go only so far: “We have to say that we are not doctors, and that we know you’re going to use common sense,” White said, conceding that groups such as the American Medical Association don’t sanction their practices.

Lily Dale’s fame as a Spiritualist hangout was enhanced in 1915 when the home of the famous Fox sisters, three western New York teenagers who reported contact with a dead peddler, was moved to the town. It’s since burned down, but a memorial garden to the sisters remains and is a popular gathering spot.

To the casual observer—and certainly to the editors of The New York Times—it’s possible to understand the appeal of the Lily Dale mediums. Those who have suffered loss, or who are confronting serious illness, might yearn for a way to bridge the divide between the living and the dead: “What makes us different from other religions,” medium Gerta Lestock told a reporter, “is that we bring evidence that life continues.”

But where does that evidence come from? Is it believable? Can you rely on it? And are you willing to bet your eternal destiny on what a medium, in Lily Dale or anywhere else, has to say?

God, who created the universe and all that it contains, knows more than a little bit about the Spiritualism practiced by the folks in Lily Dale. And in a word, God says, “Don’t.” Don’t do it, don’t touch it, don’t go near it.

Here’s the exact prohibition from Deuteronomy 18:10–12: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or none who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.”

The Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, in chapter 28, records the story of Israelite King Saul seeking a medium’s help in contacting the now-deceased prophet Samuel. It’s a tragic tale, ending with the prophecy that Saul and his sons would be dead the next day, fallen in battle.


Click here to watch a presentation Pastor Doug gave on this subject.


This illustrates the dangers of consulting with “familiar spirits.” God said don’t do this, and those who so engage do so at their spiritual peril.

To learn more about the dangers of spiritualism, click here to listen to the testimony of Roger Moreau, a one-time spiritualist whom God rescued from involvement in the occult.

And to study what the Bible really says about false prophets—and real ones—check out this free online Amazing Facts Study Guide, “Does God Inspire Astrologers and Psychics?” The answers you find there will build your faith in genuine prophecy—and will help you avoid those ensnared by Satan.

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