Christianity Johnson on 02 Sep 2008 12:01 am
People often ask, “What harm does religion do?” Here is perfect example of the harm:
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: