Back in the day, kids used to tempt demons and evil spirits using the Quija board or chanting "Bloody Mary" three times in a mirror.
Today kids are using a piece of paper and two pencils to summon the evil Mexican spirit, "Charlie Charlie" – causing some frightening results and prompting warnings by religious leaders around the world.
The game, which began in the Dominican Republic but has spread around the world on the Internet, involves kids balancing two pencils over a piece of paper with a simple grid marked out with "yes" and "no" sections. People then ask questions (apparently, the Mexican spirit understands English as well), which the demon purportedly answers by causing the pencil to rotate to either yes or no.
The rational explanation is that variations in the two pencils' surfaces along with gravity cause the movement, not some evil spirit, but the game still has caused injury to participants, some claiming to have been attacked but most just from the fright.
Several children in the Dominican Republic were hospitalized after reportedly becoming "possessed by Satan" after playing, and four Colombian high school students hospitalized for what was described "mass hysteria" after they arrived in the emergency room screaming and babbling.
Bogus claims have stated that 500 people died in the U.S. while playing the game in an attempt to fuel the controversy.
Both parents and leaders of churches around the globe have derided the game for frightening children and for promoting something that "could be pretty damaging and pretty powerful in certain situations," Monica Cruz, a California mom whose child has played the game, told local media.
Faith leaders from Christian churches ranging from Roman Catholics to Baptists have descried the Charlie game, with the Diocese of Fresno going so far as to dedicate staff and resources to helping stem the game's popularity.
"The concerns regarding the social media game, 'Charlie Charlie,' have been brought to the attention of some pastors and lay leaders," the diocese said in a statement. "Designated Pastoral Center staff are currently in dialogue to discern an appropriate response and resources to help guide parents, youth, and all individuals who have already engaged in this activity or are tempted to do so."
Carl Gallups, an outspoken pastor, recently told WPTF news radio that participants of the game are being fooled into thinking that the pencils are being moved by nothing but a demon spirit.
"I have done some experiments with this, and I think people are being punked," Gallups said, according to the Christian Post. "On my desk in front of me, I have the two pencils set up and the one on the top that is balanced is easily moved by just a puff of air."
"Let me tell you, in every one of these situations — I went and looked at these videos — there is always somebody filming it and they are always very close to the whole thing," Gallups continued. "I held my phone up to pretend like I was filming it and just started breathing a little heavy, but it's indiscernible to anybody around, and the pencil just moves so easily."