When Jesus miraculously cast "unclean spirits" out of man and into a herd of swine at Gadara in Jordan 2,000 years ago, he was setting the stage for exorcisms which continue in the present day.
Each diocese in the Church of England provides a priest to take on the role of exorcist for those rare occasions when it is deemed necessary.
But the most recent need has emerged in a London synagogue.
The rabbi at Enfield and Winchmore Hill synagogue had recently moved into the accommodation attached to the synagogue when he found he had been joined by an unseen force capable of opening windows, as well as knocking at doors and making other inexplicable noises.
Corroboration for the presence of a spirit has come from members of the synagogue's congregation, who say they have noticed the spectral activity before.
The ghost was believed to be that of the rabbi who founded the synagogue and who died 40 years ago.
The problem was eventually referred to the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, then all the way to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar.
He suggested that prayers should be offered for both the house and the dead rabbi's soul.
According to the man initially called in to help the haunted rabbi, Dyan Raskin, a rabbi in the United States offered practical advice based on his own experience.
"A man contacted him about a haunting in an office and the rabbi told him - and this is Jewish law - that no chimney, window or door should be completely sealed off, so spirits are allowed to move in and out.
"This particular man discovered that there was a sealed window and once he opened it up, the problem went away."
However, a spokesman for the Enfield synagogue now says that the "haunting" might have simply been a case of an old story being blown up out of proportion.
For Anglican priests the "deliverance ministry " usually takes the form of talking and praying, although the priest might also talk to a doctor for an assessment of the haunted person's state of mind, without their permission.
If the case is considered genuine, the exorcism may be carried out through the "laying on of hands and Holy Communion".
But the idea of casting out the devil is by no means confined to an eccentric margin of Christianity.
Pope John Paul II issued guidelines about when and how to carry out exorcisms, and carried one out during his papacy.
Another senior official, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, said at the time that belief in the existence of Satan was part of Catholic doctrine.
"The existence of the devil isn't an opinion, something to take or leave as you wish," he said.
Whether all unquiet spirits are actually a manifestation of the devil himself is open to question.
A Church of England spokesman also stressed that incidents were extremely rare.
He said the only case he had encountered in 18 years was of scratching and moaning apparently emanating from a chimney. It turned out to come from a trapped cat.