The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Catholic priest at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally said he performed an ‘exorcism’ on Congress. He’s not an exorcist, the church said.

David Fulton serves as a pastor at St. Michael’s and St. Peter’s, two parishes in rural central Nebraska. (Eddie Becker)

The Catholic priest, dressed in his clerical collar, was walking through a crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and holding a book about exorcisms when a videographer approached.

“Did you do an exorcism at the Capitol?” the videographer asked.

“Yes, I did,” the priest answered, before suggesting a “demon” had taken hold of Congress.

The nearly five-minute interview of the priest, who has since been identified as the Rev. David Fulton of Central City, Neb., has sparked anger among some parishioners and earned a rebuke from the Archdiocese of Omaha, which is investigating his actions in D.C. that day, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Fulton, who did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment, read an apology on Sunday at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, but also argued that the videographer was “anti-Catholic” and had taken his comments out of context. Fulton told church officials that he did not actually perform an exorcism, but instead “led others in prayer,” and denied entering the Capitol during the violent attempted insurrection.

Either way, church officials said, Fulton erred by showing up to the rally in his collar and claiming to do an exorcism.

“He should not have been there dressed as a priest. It was a misuse of his priestly ministry,” Timothy McNeil, the chancellor for the Archdiocese of Omaha, told the World-Herald while relating the comments of Omaha Archbishop George Lucas.

Fulton serves as a pastor at St. Michael’s and St. Peter’s, two parishes in rural central Nebraska. The priest, who was ordained in 2002, has had a turbulent relationship with the St. Michael’s congregation. In 2019, a group of now former parishioners wrote a letter to the archbishop questioning his leadership and raising other concerns about his work, according to the World-Herald.

Internet detectives are identifying scores of pro-Trump rioters at the Capitol. Some have already been fired.

On Jan. 6, D.C.-based independent videographer Eddie Becker was walking near the west side of the Capitol when, at around 3:25 p.m., he spotted Fulton walking in the opposite direction, Becker told The Post in an interview.

Becker, 70, had interviewed dozens of attendees throughout the day for an “instant documentary” he was producing. He said he was curious to hear what Fulton was doing because he had not seen many religious leaders at the rally.

“What was it like for you in there?” Becker asked Fulton as he approached.

“Pretty awesome. … I didn’t get way up there, but the crowd was awesome, the atmosphere. It’s good to see so many people who care about the country concerned about the country. People who know what’s going on, the obvious steal,” Fulton said, referencing former president Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud.

After Fulton claimed to have performed an exorcism, Becker asked him, “What has possessed the Capitol?” Fulton said that the building had been taken over by a “demon called Baphomet” intent on “dissolving the country.”

Days later, Becker published a nearly 10-minute video of interviews with people at the rally, including clips of his conversation with Fulton.

The Archdiocese of Omaha first learned that Fulton had traveled to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally after he returned to Nebraska, when someone reported him to the church, McNeil told the World-Herald.

Fulton told church officials he left the Capitol before any violence took place and did not learn about the riots until he returned to his hotel, McNeil said.

Fulton, who according to McNeil is not an exorcist, denied performing an exorcism. Since he traveled to D.C. as a private citizen, Fulton did not break any “civil or ecclesiastical laws,” McNeil said, but he did “misuse” his position by wearing his clerical collar.

“Whether or not Fr. Fulton broke any laws, I condemn his participation in the event in the strongest terms,” McNeil told the paper.

Fulton broke his silence on the video at Mass on Sunday when he read an apology he said the Omaha Archbishop had asked him to recite. Fulton said he “used bad judgment” by attending the rally and “spoke and acted in a way that was not consistent with my vocation as priest.”

But he also lambasted Becker for allegedly “weaponizing” his comments by only posting a portion of the interview online.

“This guy wanted to interview me, and I could tell that he wasn’t … of good intention,” Fulton said. “But I thought maybe I could lead him to something that could help to evangelize him. And so I tried to find commonalities with what he was saying — he was saying very anti-Catholic stuff.”

After the sermon, Becker responded by publishing the full video of his interview with the priest so people could “draw their own conclusions,” he told The Post.

“Look at the tape. He basically implicates himself,” he said. “I haven’t heard from him, and I don’t think I will.”

McNeil initially told the World-Herald that Fulton would not face official consequences for attending the rally or claiming to have performed an exorcism. But on Monday he said that an internal investigation was ongoing.

“This is an internal personnel matter that we’re taking seriously,” McNeil told the World-Herald.