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Christianity Johnson on 02 Sep 2008 12:01 am

How religion uses superstitious beliefs to steal money from people

People often ask, “What harm does religion do?” Here is perfect example of the harm:

Belief in cure attracts crowds

It is an article about Benny Hinn and the headline says it all: “Belief in cure attracts crowds.” Religion breeds a strong belief in the superstition of prayer and “divine healing miracles.” Those superstitions then allow Benny Hinn (and thousands of people like him) to become rich through deception.

Here’s how the scheme works in four easy steps:

Step 1) Teach people to believe in the superstition of prayers and miracles

Step 2) Use those superstitious beliefs to create a false reputation as a “healer”

Step 3) Come to town and gather thousands of people to you with your false reputation

Step 4) Milk the crowd for money by preying on their superstitions

The article says that thousands of people came to see Benny Hinn because he is:

an international preacher and native of Israel who claims that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, sick people are supernaturally healed in his presence.

This, of course, is a lie. If it were true that Benny Hinn could heal people, then he could heal amputees. There are a thousand other ways to prove that Benny Hinn is a fraud, but the fact that he cannot heal amputees is by far the easiest and most obvious proof.

Then, once the people are there to be “healed”, Mr. Hinn changes the story. According to the article:

Hinn preaches a version of the prosperity gospel, which holds that God wants his followers to have financial wealth. To become prosperous, one must give money to God, who returns it multiplied.

“The only way to get out of debt is to give to God’s work,” Hinn said during the Friday morning service. He then challenged his audience. “It doesn’t take a whole lot of faith for $50.”

Instead, he asked for $1,000. Those who wrote checks or filled out their credit card information for $1,000 donations (the form was on the outside of the envelopes distributed by the ushers) were asked to come to the stage. About 70 did, holding their envelopes in the air.

Hinn shouted his elation.

“Thank you, Jesus!”

That’s $70,000 in ill-gotten gains from just one show, and that does not count all the smaller donations.

It could be argued that these people believe in these superstitions voluntarily, and they give their money voluntarily.

But the problem is that religion is allowed to openly and publicly lie about the superstitions without penalty. Imagine that a drug company sold a cancer drug, claiming that it cured cancer, when in fact it did not. First, the company would not be allowed to release the drug. But if the drug were released through deceptive research data, the drug would eventually be pulled from the market and the company penalized and sued. Eventually a company making false claims would be driven out of business.

That never happens with religion, because the deception of religion gets a free pass. Benny Hinn is allowed to lie and lie and lie again without ever being brought to justice. His reputation grows.

Also note that sick people are often desperate, for understandable reasons. The article gives a specific example, talking about a 61 year old construction worker named Jimmie Stewart who attended Hinn’s show. Stewart has Lou Gehrig’s disease and came looking for a cure:

According to believers’ testimony at previous events, back pain has disappeared, cancerous tumors have shrunk, and arthritis symptoms have vanished.

When asked if he thought something similar might be coming his way Friday, Stewart answered.

“That’s my expectation.”

The “believers’ testimony” is a lie and provably so, but the lies propagate without any constraint. Benny Hinn is able to reap huge amounts of money with those lies. Every church in America makes its money though more subtle versions of the same scam.

How do we solve the problem? Instead of giving religion a free pass, we must treat religion just like we would treat a deceptive drug company. When members of a religion lie to steal money, they should be prosecuted for fraud.

If you are a Christian and you would like to prove to yourself that prayer is a superstition, these two videos can help:

This web site can also help you break out of the superstition of religion:

- Whywontgodhealamputees.com

17 Responses to “How religion uses superstitious beliefs to steal money from people”

  1. on 02 Sep 2008 at 2:38 am 1.CLS said …

    You may appreciate the work of Justin Peters. His site is: http://www.justinpeters.org and be sure to watch “demo.” He gave the full length presentation at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.

  2. on 02 Sep 2008 at 3:29 am 2.Snag said …

    Religion should be illegal.

  3. on 02 Sep 2008 at 1:25 pm 3.Chris R said …

    Thinking that religion should be illegal isn’t the way to go about it. People have the right to believe what they want to believe, no matter how delusional and nonsensical it may be.

    If religion were illegal, the US would be no better than the USSR, who persecuted anyone who wasn’t an atheist. If anything, we need to appeal to people’s reason (or at least the people who are willing to become rational).

  4. on 03 Sep 2008 at 12:13 am 4.Salcon said …

    Saying God does not exist because he does not answer prayers is NO better than saying that because prayers are “answered”, God does exist. Both are equally presumptuous and follow faulty assumptions.

  5. on 03 Sep 2008 at 1:51 pm 5.Greg said …

    So here is a question for you. What if Benny Hinn and the others who claim to heal people or preach this so called prosperity gospel aren’t following what the Bible says, what if they are taking what the Bible says and distorting it, thus creating an idol or creating a God in their mind who does not exist, would they still then be Christians? Would you be able to look at them and judge all Christians by what they do? Not all self proclaimed Christians are actually Christians, yet when one who thinks they are a Christian does something it looks bad on all Christians…

  6. on 04 Sep 2008 at 8:56 pm 6.malcon said …

    greg. christians claim to KNOW that they have a friend in heaven who created them and all the universe.
    they pray for all those who don’t KNOW this and get upset when rational thinkers raise an eyebrow at their claims.
    I think that makes all christians look pretty bad. -I have met half a handful of christians who did not try to preach to me or convince me of the Truth. those four are excused, but the rest have a lot of explaining to do.

  7. on 19 Oct 2012 at 10:56 pm 7.The messenger said …

    There is only one healer who can heal people without Medication.

    His name is Jesus, and he never asked for money, and he never received any money either. Thomas, why are you so misinformed?

  8. on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:13 pm 8.The messenger said …

    Benny hinn is not a true healer. If he was a true healer, he wouldn’t have charged any money for healing people. Jesus is the only person who can heal people, and Jesus never charged or received any money for healing people.

    Just because one person is a fraud doesn’t mean all religious are.

    Thomas, I pray that you see that God is real.

  9. on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:17 pm 9.The messenger said …

    The second video on this post is a bunch of nonsense. Thomas, what does seeing a stupid eye tricker have to with Christianity?

    Why are you so stupid, Mr. Thomas.

  10. on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:24 pm 10.The messenger said …

    Johnson, the biggest lie that you have put on this post is the claim that churches scam people out of money.

    Churches do not scam people, they set up charities for the poor and give money to the needy. The church is funded by donations given by the people who attend the church, they give the money to the church to pay for the electic bill and other supplies for the church. The church does not scam people. Johnson stop posting these lies.

  11. on 21 Oct 2012 at 9:11 pm 11.The messenger said …

    on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:24 pm 10.The messenger said …
    Johnson, the biggest lie that you have put on this post is the claim that churches scam people out of money.
    Churches do not scam people, they set up charities for the poor and give money to the needy. The church is funded by donations given by the people who attend the church, they give the money to the church to pay for the electic bill and other supplies for the church. The church does not scam people. Johnson stop posting these lies.

  12. on 21 Oct 2012 at 9:12 pm 12.The messenger said …

    on 19 Oct 2012 at 11:17 pm 9.The messenger said …
    The second video on this post is a bunch of nonsense. Johnson, what does seeing a stupid eye tricker have to with Christianity?
    Why are you so stupid, Mr. Johnson.

  13. on 04 Dec 2012 at 6:28 am 13.Anti-Theist said …

    Churches are huge scams. Your multi-million dollar mega churches are especially grotesque. I don’t recall anyone advocating the boasting of deeds. I do recall those who do so being the least to be called. I would guess messanger sports lots of xtians paraphernalia and is often found gloating a superior xtian ethic than nearby friends and family.

  14. on 04 Dec 2012 at 12:40 pm 14.Severin said …

    Messenger,

    Who will take you seriously if you oly shit your claims around and never take responsibility for them by any other arguments but re-claiming them. Why don’t you ever, at least, answer direct and simple question that arise directly from your claims and cry out to be answered?

    Debate is not one way street.
    You got direct question to YOUR claim that
    “… everything that happens to us is a part of our father’s plan …”, and the question was:
    Are starving children and holocaust parts of god’s plan too (as those things/events absolutely fit the criterion of “everything”)?
    Direct and simple: ARE STARVING CHILDREN AND HOLOCOUST PARTS OF GOD’S PLAN OR NOT?

    If you have no answer, go, the hell, out of here and fuck your family and your neighbors with your idiocies, if they are patient enough to listen to you.
    Do not think that we will just forget your claims and questions we posed, only because you ceased your posting here for a while, as you did, and as all theists do in lack of answers and arguments.

  15. on 04 Dec 2012 at 10:39 pm 15.The messenger said …

    14.Severin, in your first sentence you had a small spelling error.

    Instead of typing the word “only”, you typed “oly”.

    Come back when you learn how to spell.

  16. on 04 Dec 2012 at 10:42 pm 16.The messenger said …

    14.Severin, I have answered all of the questions that I recieved clearly.

    I can dum them down for you if you want me too.

  17. on 04 Dec 2012 at 10:55 pm 17.The messenger said …

    14.Severin, I have already given you that answer too your hollocaust question.

    Because of your apparent blindness too all that is true, I suggest that you check into the nearest mental institution.

    The answer too your Hollocast question is yes, they were a part of Jesus’s plan.

    His plan was too test the people of the world I order to help them see what true evil is, and how too avoide it.

    The people who died in the Holocast and many of the the starving children are now living in heaven with Jesus and they are all having a wonderful time.

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