WWJS2 PP Slide PEGTheresa Caputo is a mega star. Everything about her is big — the hair, the audience, the high heels, the energy and the excitement. She does not lack confidence and is not deterred by critics. Her success, it appears, has turned her into a sort of female Elliot Ness of reality T.V. She is untouchable. But is she a real medium or a charlatan? Helping people or preying on their emotions at a time when they are most vulnerable?

The answer depends on who you talk to. Her detractors are convinced she is a fraud. From a journalist from her hometown, who wrote a highly critical story after she saw Theresa live, to a mom who was willing to say she got everything wrong, to a fellow medium who wrote about her stage rudeness, the list is endless. Even Andy Cohen from Bravo TV and Anderson Cooper from CNN have joined the ranks of the skeptics, not to say anything about Inside Edition and Wired Magazine.

But before you throw her under the proverbial bus, beware. Her fans number in the tens of thousands. They buy advanced front row tickets to her live shows, receive special surprise gifts, and personal thank you cards — all for $19.99 per month.

Instead of giving a definitive answer about whether Ms. Caputo is a fraud or not, let’s look at some of the claims made by the so-called “Long Island Medium.”

She claims she can speak with the dead. Well, no one can prove that claim. But there are hints. Theresa states that everyone also has the same kind of ability she has. One of the first things she says in her live performances is that she is not trying to make a believer out of anyone. She actually lets everybody know they don’t need to consult a medium, which makes me wonder why the people were not informed of that before they bought their tickets, but that’s just an aside. The reason you don’t need a medium is because you may already be a medium, she says. You just need to cultivate that gift. That’s like speaking with both sides of your mouth.

She claims that our loved ones are always with us, as in the following quote: “… the souls of our loved ones are still with us, loving, guiding, and protecting us from the other side, and that’s what I can give people.” Theresa calls this a “soul bond.” That’s an example of mixing truth with falsehood. “Soul bond,” in the sense of a deeply felt connection we may feel with a departed loved one is perfectly understandable. But that does not mean that there needs to be some kind of physical, sensorial connection with the dead. That’s what we would like to believe because it makes us all feel good, but what we know from Scriptures is that when a person departs this physical world, that person goes to another place to wait the final resurrection and the day of judgment. No one is hanging around dispensing opinions on your cooking or telling you if you should buy a Fiat 500 or a Kia Soul. There is no body-guarding being done by the disembodied.

She claims that this presence can be perceived by odd and weird things. They don’t have to be specific (of course, that would be easier to detect when you are off mark), just oddly familiar and easily detectable. Some of the examples she gives are things like suddenly smelling your mom’s perfume or receiving change in a supermarket that features a coin with the year your loved one died or was born. She calls these “little hellos from heaven,” and urges us to embrace them. But could they be the fruit of an over active brain besought with grief? I have a vivid sensory memory but that doesn’t mean the smells are coming from the beyond. Plus, there are some people whose smells I would rather not embrace… If the dead are sending us messages in every little thing, then the uniqueness of contacting the departed, if there ever was one, would all be lost. Odd and weird things could also only be that — odd and weird things.

She claims to be doing the work of God. In all the barrage of negative comments from acid critics, Ms. Caputo finds comfort in her belief that she has been given by God this incredible gift of helping people in their greatest hour of grief. That she is helping people, at least temporarily, is undeniable — her fans are legion. That the help is from God, I highly doubt, because God made clear to His people in Scriptures that consulting the dead was a wanton act of rebellion, punishable by death in the Mosaic law.

That God would go to great lengths in the Bible to warn us multiple times about this sin, even calling it an “abomination,” seems to indicate to us that there is something that could potentially bring great harm to the believer if s/he were to engage in this practice. My personal conviction is that God knew that behind every so-called “spirit” of a departed one, there is a demon. People may well be talking to someone but I don’t think it’s their dead relatives. It’s the enemy masquerading as an angel of light, giving people false hope based on a lie, and thus derailing them from the path where real peace and real hope come from — a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Theresa Caputo indeed has many gifts, but in my humble opinion, speaking with the dead is not one of them. The rest of her motives, I will leave it up to God to judge. And I will pray for her, as we all should.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA