a kind of a cancer

September 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm 7 comments


But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6

I was looking at a map for a project at work yesterday and the name of a small town caught my eye. I had once had a business appointment there at the office of a woman running her own business. I got to chat with her a bit during several visits; she was under a lot of stress, her little boy was dying of cancer. As I recall, he had been in remission after undergoing chemotherapy and then the cancer came back. So infinitely sad, my heart still aches to remember.

She was a Christian and held out hope for God’s healing. But it was more than that, she was confident God was going to heal her child. She had been sold on a certain theology in which it is necessary to have full confidence in prayer for the requests to be answered. In fact, she had staked a lot in taking her boy to a healing service by a visiting evangelist who preached that message. Some of you may recognize that theology. The evangelist was the one and only Benny Hinn. I had not heard of him or the theology at the time. It was something that didn’t sound right, but what can you say to a mother whose boy is dying of cancer?

I recently read about the problems perpetrated by men like Hinn in William Lobdell’s book, Losing My Religion. An article he wrote on Hinn made it into the book (a lot of the book is from previously published articles). He writes about how despite investigations of people of like Hinn, despite revelations of misdeeds, corruption, and fraud, people still flock to hear them and give them money, holding out hope for miracles. Truly sickening.

“Sitting cross-legged in front of a big-screen TV, the 11-year-old squints through Coke-bottle glasses at a Miracle Crusade video made more than two years ago in which he starred as a boy who miraculously recovered from blindness. “I liked it at first because I thought I was being healed,” says William in the living room of his aunt and uncle’s home. On the screen, Hinn bends down to William, his hands on the child’s face. “Look at these tears,” says Hinn, peering into the child’s eyes. “William, baby, can you see me?”

Before more than 15,000 people in a Las Vegas arena, William nods. In a small voice, the boy says: “As soon as God healed me, I could see better.” Hinn, an arm wrapped around William, tells the audience that God has told him to pay the child’s medical expenses and education. People weep. Today William is still legally blind and says his sight never improved, and that his onstage comments were wishful thinking.

The woman’s little boy passed away not much later. I still think of them from time to time. I hope her difficult life was not made harsher through the experience of that “healing” ministry. I hope that it did not rob her of any comfort she and her husband and their boy had in his last days. I hope they have made peace with their God, and somehow found comfort in the midst of their tragedy.

Sitting back in his chair, Hinn shakes his head over how tough his job has become. He says being a pastor in the healing ministry is a profession he would never choose for himself, but he is called to it by God. “It’s not been a pleasant life,” Hinn says. “[People] think we’re in it for the money. They think that God doesn’t really heal, so these guys are just fooling the world. I’d be a fool to be in this for the money. If I did not believe God healed, I’d quit tomorrow and go get a job.”


Entry filed under: church, miracles, skepticism, supernatural.

the devil in dover Orwell’s rules for English

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Rambling Taoist  |  September 30, 2009 at 2:52 am

    People who prey on others in their times of sorrow, grief and vulnerability are the scourges of humankind. Some are religious and some aren’t. Of course, the ones who feign religious belief in a higher power in order to bilk earthly wealth and trust out of people are the worst of the lot in my book.

  • 2. Brandt  |  September 30, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Sad story. I have a hard time buying the idea Benny Hinn actually believes he is called by God to heal people, and that it has nothing to do with money.

    Everything about Hinn and other faith healers makes me want to vomit.

  • 3. tysdaddy  |  September 30, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Jesus did it for the money, so why wouldn’t Benny Hinn.

    I’m kidding, of course. Sad . . .

    I remember well standing in front of the pastor at my church, my ears ringing with infection, any sort of balance nonexistent. I believed, and wobbled home . . .

  • 4. Ian  |  October 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I’m pretty convinced that Hinn is a self-knowing fraud, given the reports of how he structures the services, the lifestyle he leads, his financial secrecy and the outright lies he tells in his books.

    It is people like Hinn, who cause people’s deaths by convincing them they don’t need health care, who really make me wonder if any of the benefits religion provides (hope, companionship, relaxation, charity) is actually worth it.

    [PS – Hi, found this blog from Sabio’s…]

  • 5. atimetorend  |  October 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Ian, thanks for stopping by. It is easy to write Hinn off as a wicked fraud but it is important to wonder as you do how people like him fit into the package of benefits of religion. Relates to Sabio’s post too, doesn’t it?

  • 6. Ian  |  October 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Being somewhat biologically minded, I tend to think of these things in ecological terms.

    Hinn, I think, is a classic predator or parasite.

    But obviously he is most successful because he both uses the ecosystem of Christian belief to his advantage, and because he uses the right blend of mimicry and faked benefits to tap into his victim’s psyche. So you’re right he taps into fundamental human needs and desires, and shared a language of theology and religiosity in order to make the original infection. Before bleeding his victims as dry as he can, and discarding them.

    Like a parasitic worm that looks like a really juicy meal, and infects the gut of its host. Consuming all their nutrients until they die of malnutrition.

    There is something about the way religion works that sets up ecosystems that can be exploited to horrible effects, where something like the local golf club limits the evil that can be done (to be sure, there are parasites on many institutions though).

    IMHO, of course.

  • 7. the chaplain  |  October 1, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Hinn is a worm. Call me cynical, but I don’t believe for a moment that he feels called by god and believes that he has a healing ministry. What I believe is that he’s a con artist and predator of the worst sort. He’s scum.

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