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Headlines at Hopkins
Media Advisory

October 24, 2002
To: Reporters, Editors, Producers
From: Amy Cowles, (410) 516-7160, amycowles@jhu.edu
Re: Witchcraft, Sex, Demons and God

In 15th century Europe, witches became the scapegoats when infant mortality rates soared, the plague devastated towns and crops failed overnight. Theologians' belief in witches -- and their ability to persuade society in general that witches existed -- took God off the hook for all the bad things that happened to good people. Stories of alleged witches' gruesome acts comforted people whose faith in God was challenged by the evil in the world, according to Walter Stephens, the Charles S. Singleton Professor of Italian Studies at The Johns Hopkins University.

Stephens has devoted the past decade to the study of witchcraft theory and how it was used both to explain evil and to "prove" the existence of God. Just in time for Halloween, Stephens, author of Demon Lovers: Witchcraft, Sex and the Crisis of Belief, debunks some popular myths about witches in a video that can be viewed online at www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/audio-video/stephens.html.

Stephens welcomes opportunities to work with the media. To arrange an interview with him, contact Amy Cowles at 410-516-7160.

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