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Monday, July 9

Scamming America With Jesus

Why Faith Healers Are Immoral And Bad For Health Of The Country

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  Part I of a three part series

The Monday Sermon: Are Faith Healers Bad For Your Health?

Pat Robertson began his ministry as a charismatic - a faith healer. He was also the first "prosperity gospel" preacher (calling it, however, "reciprocity" faith). People who first donated to his "700 Club" honestly believed that they would receive returns hundredfold and the poor were disparaged because they didn't "believe enough." His image as a healer was tarnished a bit when he opted for heart surgery in 2009, cries of "heal thyself" not withstanding. But as recently as February of 2011, Robertson hosted a   mass faith healing of an audience , telling people how important it was for people to give to the  700 Club   and its causes.

The Entertainment Industry Of Faith Healing

It has long been said: America has made a religion out of entertainment ... and an entertainment out of religion. Pat Robertson discovered that early on when he became one of the first truly successful televangelists to utilize cable TV.* Others followed suit and empires were built out of promises of prayer to heal everything from hemorrhoids to cancer. The TV shows then gave  rise to videoed rallies, the size and scope of which have been the envy of dictators. Today's Benny Hinn Ministries rallies are held in stadiums. And as we shall see, the rallies have actually increased in size and number, despite the number of exposes attempting to reveal the totally fraudulent enterprises.

Derren Brown's   Miracles for Sale  is probably the most astounding expose of the world of faith healers: he actually trains a man to be a "healer" with tricks done by magicians, hypnotists and inside-the-scam experts, for example, using partially-sighted people for "the blind see" and the use of music as a subliminal tool.  Anyone who views this hour-long video realizes how profoundly manipulated people are into believing in Word of Faith. It features heartless mass manipulation through skulduggery and shills and outright sham: it uses entertainment as a most insidious tool. 

Miracles for Sale   is a searing dismantling of the genre that every American should view regardless of faith or denomination. It is something that Pat Robertson and Benny Hinn don't every want you to see. Since its production, it has had only several million viewers in the U.K. and only 170,000 views on YouTube. Hardly a viral hit.

So why aren't the exposes successful in shutting down the faith healing industry? Perhaps because they are telling people things they don't want to hear ... or believe: a "man of God" would never scam them or lie to them, would he? 

The Immorality Of The Faith Healer

It is normal to place the machinations of someone like Benny Hinn into the category of scam artist and dismiss his immorality as based on greed. His "falling bodies" are entertaining and many people deem him as harmless (see video below). But the fact remains that faith healers have an immorality all their own: they use faith - albeit mostly blind faith - to scam people, people who are innocent in their gullibility or desperate in their quest for a cure. Faith healers are bad for the country's economic and mental health; like grave robbers, faith healers rob the coffins of people who are dead of reason, while raising false hopes to heights that fatal when fallen from. 

In the next parts of this series, we'll be looking at some of the ridiculous claims and events put on by today's faith healers, proving that exposes have had little effect upon the country's attachment to them and bringing to the fore the question: so what do we do about these guys? Here's an over-the-top proposal that matches the over-the-top tenor of the situation. It's amusing, but worth a thought. 

"100% Healer - Guaranteed!" Certification: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Let's face it: the only way to prevent scams by any entity is to keep tabs on it by regulating it. Organizations like the   Consumers Union  can do only so much to prevent people from falling into scams. And failure of Christianity in policing its own is obvious: denominations may frown upon faith healing, but do very little to discourage it. Pat Robertson, for example, was ordained as a Southern Baptist, but he is a charismatic, something which the Southern Baptist Convention does not recognize. It also does not recognize glossolalia (speaking in tongues), but some Southern Baptist churches have a decidedly Pentecostal bent.

So if people don't want to wind up waiting in line just to become one of Benny Hinn's human dominoes, it may be time to have our healers ... certified.

Think of it: an agency with a list of "certified" faith healers, people you can go to with a modicum of confidence, and with the knowledge that you won't be totally ripped off. It's implausible, of course, given the tenure of "freedom of religion" these days, and total irony would ensue: the people who scream at the very thought of Separation of Church and State would be demanding its enforcement. But such an agency would be a practical solution to protect people from fraud. It would work in this way: 

In order to be "certified" a faith healer would have to produce a certain amount of sworn testimonials with accompanying medical records that have been screened by a medical panel. The records would present before and after statements of conditions and diseases indicating marked improvement or complete cures not accomplished by normal drugs or procedures; in other words, proof that a change has occurred in the patient due to remedies other than the ones provided by medicine. It would be the most air-tight method of weeding out shills. The same qualifications would apply to all other types of "healers" outside the medical community. If you want to say that you're a "healer" in any capacity, you'd better be certified or else face charges of fraud or false advertising. 

Yeah, wishful thinking is sublime, isn't it? Yet the imagination reels in thinking just who would be able to be certified: certainly not people like Cindy "Japan-is-shaped-lie-a-dragon Jacobs", who offhandedly claimed that she "cured" a woman of her hysterectomy. None of Hinn's dominoes would could forth to offer testimonies either. And falsifying medical records is a felony. 

OK, so "certification" would be merely a ridiculous idea of treating a serious subject of scamming, but does anyone else have a better idea to keep the faith healing industry in check?
Next: Lou Engle Wants 100,000 Ex-Gays To Become Just Like Him. 


*It has often been quipped that the only true miracle Robertson has ever seen is when he went on cable TV and extracted money from people whom he had convinced were dumber and crazier than he was.

Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books €" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most
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