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What Is a Spiritualist?
By:Nannette Richford

A spiritualist is a person who claims to be able to communicate with the spirits of those who have died. Not only does he believe that the spirit of a person exists beyond the grave, he believes that communication with the dead is necessary to prove the existence of the human soul or spirit beyond physical death.

Spiritualism
Although the term "spiritualist" is often used to refer to any person who claims to communicate with the dead, its true meaning refers to someone who practices the religion of spiritualism. According to the National Spiritualism Association of Churches, spiritualism is a combination of religion, science and philosophy with a specific set of defined objectives.

Goal
The goal of the religion is to provide evidence to others that the soul or spirit exists beyond the grave and to remove the fear of death. It teaches that physical death is merely a transformation from a lower level of consciousness to a higher plane of consciousness with the goal of teaching responsibility for our actions as humans. This knowledge is believed to inspire humans to live a pure life that does no harm to others.

Communication
Initially, spiritualists communicated with the dead by tappings, which is the process of using small taps to decipher messages from the dead. As the spiritual movement gained acceptance and the fear of persecution and death for their practices was removed, spiritualist mediums began to manifest communication with the dead through materialization, spirit healing, clairvoyance (the ability to see the dead), clairaudience (the ability to hear spirit voices) and slate writing.

Demonstration
Spiritualists communicate with the dead through readings or public demonstration. This is viewed as necessary to gain the interest of the general population and to draw them to the teachings of spiritualism. Once others experience messages from those who have passed on, they are more likely to accept the principles involved in spiritualism.

God
One such principle is that of a universal God, but a denial of the eternal damnation for any souls as taught in Christianity. Although some spiritualist claim to believe in Christ, the disregard of the fundamental premise of the Christ as a savior sets spirituality at odds with Christianity.

Accuracy
The spiritualist church freely admits that not all readings are accurate and that the spirits with whom they communicate are open to errors. Although some spirits may provide information that indicates knowledge of the future, the church claims it does not predict the future.

Misconceptions
Many people mistakenly assume that any medium or psychic is a spiritualist. There are many who claim to have paranormal powers and communicate with the spirits of those who have passed on to the other side, but not all are spiritualists or subscribe to the set of religious beliefs defined as spiritualism.