Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jesus spreads AIDS

Religion is a curse that inflicts the gullible, the insane and the evil. There is no more clear cut example of the viciousness of this massive con game than the so-called “faith healers” that inflict segments of fundamentalist Christianity. The English paper, the Guardian, has an expose on the “The curse of the miracle healers.”

Now, I’ve witnessed these con men up close and personal. I’ve known the gullible and the insane that fill the pews of their churches, tent revivals and “crusades.” I remember one woman “testifying” about how the “Lord healed me. I had a cold and prayed to Doctor Jesus and three days later I was healed.” The congregation waved their arms in the air in ecstatic emotion, mumbled in tongues and attributed the cure to divine intervention. Never mind that three days later most colds are healed. Nonsense! In that case relatively harmless nonsense.

The congregation, which in non-PC circles, would be called “white trash” was uneducated, often unemployed, and migrants from the hills of the South. But I’ve seen people harmed by such doctrines as well. The rubbish they preach is that if you have a small “grain of faith God will move mountains.” “Nothing is too hard for Jesus.” You can not fail if you believe in God is typical rubbish from the congregation of the gullible. It’s not even remotely true.

Now in Nigeria these doctrines are killing people and helping spread AIDs. As the Guardian notes: “Believers are told they will be exhibiting a lack of faith if they continue with their antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) or if they take a HIV test to confirm their healing.” The paper tells the story of Moses Garba Dashe.

Dashe was a top level bureaucrat who had been told that God had healed him. He stopped taking his ARVs to prove his faith. Of course he got sick. Worse yet it turned out that during the time he stopped taking the drugs the virus became resistant to the treatment. His daughter was also infected. She was also “cured”. She went into a coma and died from the cure.

I remember watching a documentary that followed a group of “born-again” white Christians from South Africa who travelled to Nigeria to attend the great “healing crusades” of the evangelists there who attract tens of thousands of people. Christian groups in South Africa arranged the trips to help show the power of God.

We followed the lives of three people. One was a young man who was a well known rugby player. His Afrikaner family were devout fundamentalists. I can’t remember what afflicted him but it was serious and it showed. It was rapid as well. One week he was a muscular famous athlete and then another he was in a wheelchair begging some divine entity to spare his life.

Another man took his young son who had a heart defect that would kill him without surgery. South Africa was famous for pioneering heart surgery techniques but under the African National Congress government the hospitals had been destroyed. Surgery became harder to obtain and he was desperate. He believed Jesus could heal this boy.

The third individual was a young man who was infected with HIV. The more serious the disease the more willing people are to have “faith”. As Dashe said hold out a knife to a drowning man and he will clutch it.

The “faith healer” had claimed an ability to raise the dead. Nothing was impossible because God was working through him. He would have the sick line up and walk around picking which ones that God was wanting to heal. The ill were to carry signs stating their problem. Of course that made it easier for the con man of God to avoid the cases that would embarrass him immediately. Better to pick disease that one can’t see.

The camera caught the anguish on the rugby player’s face. His family pressed around him their eyes pleading with the “evangelist” to look in their direction. Briefly he did. You could see the anticipation and smiles just below the surface ready to explode. He read the sign and quickly moved on. Tears came down the cheeks of the ignored. But church leaders assured them that God worked in mysterious ways and that they should come back the next day. And they did. And the day after and the day after. All that week they waited and prayed and hoped and went back to their hotel disappointed.

God never chose to visit them. The young rugby player returned to South Africa and died shortly thereafter.

The other two victims of the God con were “blessed” by God who sent his minister to them. They had illnesses that were not immediately apparent. He laid hands on them and prayed and got all emotional. They cried and praised God for the healing they received.

The young boy had x-rays which showed the heart problem still existed. The prayers and promises of God were useless. The man with AIDs announced that he knew that God had clearly healed him. Within minutes of the “cure” he was telling the cameras that he was healed and not only that but he was convinced that God had cured him of being gay as well and he was immediately finding women sexually attractive.

Back in South Africa blood tests confirmed he was still infected. No cure had taken place.

I almost forget. There was one other young man who sought healing there and claimed to find it. He stuttered and it caused him great heartache. He was prayed for and pronounced cured. Weeks later he was interviewed for the documentary. He said that God was continuing to heal him. “P-p-p-p-p-p-raise J-J-J esus” he stuttered out on film.

I remember well going to a with a family I knew and cared about to a faith healing crusade. The woman who was my friend was taking her father who had problems with his leg and needed a cane to get around. The evangelist had the ill line up so he could slap them on the head, scream irrational utterances into their ears and then proclaim them healed “in the name of Jesus.”

As this man hobbled up he was the most sincere of believers. He just knew that God could heal him. The evangelist screamed theological obscenities about God’s healing power and slapped the man on the head, hoping it would encourage him to swoon under the power of the Holy Ghost. It didn’t.

“God’s man” then grabbed the cane out of the old man’s hand and flung it across the stage shouting out: “Jesus says you don’t need that anymore.” The congregation was doing holy dancers, waving their hands and weeping in joy. The evangelist ordered the man to hobble around the auditorium. He did. He always could but was difficult.

There was no miracle in walking without the cane. It assisted him but didn’t hold him up constantly. He hobbled. His family cried. He did too. When the “miracle crusade” was over he started to walk to the car but the problems were still there. He shyly walked to the cane lying on the ground against the wall and picked it up.

His family said nothing. Those congregation members still present who witnessed this pretended not to see it.

Maybe Dr. Jesus should be up on malpractice charges!


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