THE Church of Scotland is planning to train ministers to deal with evil spirits after research showed half the clergy believe they have directly encountered "Satanic" forces.
The Kirk is considering lessons on the supernatural because a growing number of pastors are seeking advice on issues ranging from poltergeists to "possessed" parishioners.
According to research by one of the Kirk's leading experts on the subject, more than half of the church's 1,200 ministers report personal experience of "dark spirits" and "evil powers".
The Church of Scotland Ministries Council, which oversees training for new ministers, has developed a training programme which, if adopted, will teach clerics what to look for in a person who believes they are possessed or oppressed by the devil.
Ministers will not be taught how to conduct exorcisms but will be advised to refer parishioners to a small team of Kirk experts in the paranormal. They will also make sure they take advice from doctors and psychiatrists.
Rev Douglas Cranston, the convener of the Ministries Council, said: "Most ministers come across something like this at some time in their pastoral lives. The training would be given as part of a broader context of healing ministries in general."