Friday, March 19, 2010

Faith Healing: It's a Scam, Get Over It.

I hate people who take advantage of the desperate. They rank right up there with pedophiles. So I think you can understand why I have a special disdain for faith healers, those scam artists that combine the desperation of the incurably ill with the credulity of the faithful. It's a vile business. I have only pity for the desperate who turn to scam artists for help because I understand them. There have been times in my life I would have drunk motor oil if somebody somewhere said it would help. I won't list all the different herbs and supplements and such I have tried. It's embarrassing. Therefore, I have only contempt for those who take advantage of such despair and frustration for those who support it.

This morning I read Luke18:31-43. Jesus told his disciples that
he would be murdered by the Gentiles and then rise from the dead on the third
day. Also, as he walked by a blind man called out to Jesus so he could heal him
of his blindness. Jesus gave him his sight back.

I have witnessed one miraculous healing in Mexico back in August 2006. Our
group was praying for a while for a man paralyzed in his wheelchair. I don't
know how long we prayed but it was for maybe an hour. At the end of it he got up
out of his wheelchair and began to walk. At the end of the mission trip he was
pushing his wheelchair around while his non-paralyzed brother sat it in. Months
later he got a job at a factory. I don't know how he is doing now, since it was
almost four years ago, but I am sure he is doing fine.

It would be difficult to describe everything that is wrong with the above paragraph. First of all, we have no proof the man in the wheelchair was indeed paralyzed. He may have been a perfectly healthy plant. He could have suffered from any of a number of disorders or illnesses that require wheelchair use for medium or long distances, but allow one to stand or walk for short distances, such as pain, fatigue, heart or lung diseases, etc. We don't know and I doubt the writer did either.

Months later he got a job at a factory.

How does the writer know this? Did he see the man at the factory? I doubt it. He was told this and accepted it without question. However, even if the man were legitimately in need of a wheelchair, he could very well have had a self limiting disorder that required him to use a wheelchair and then improved to the point where he was healthy enough to work in a factory. That's assuming the man was ever in need of a wheelchair at all.

I don't know how he is doing now, since it was almost four years ago, but I am
sure he is doing fine.

He could be dead for all the writer knows. That's a ridiculous assumption. If the man has a relapsing/remitting disorder like Multiple Sclerosis, he could well be using a wheelchair as we speak. We have no way of knowing. I don't know if this is more of a study of the scam that is faith healing or the extremes of credulity.

I actually did comment on this post, pointing out all the things we don't know about this story, and this was the response:

Personalfailure... I understand your argument but it is not possible to
scientifically explain miracles because they can't be explained scientifically.
Miracles go above and beyond science. You have to have faith.

LALALALA- I can't heeeeaaaaar you! And really don't waaaaaaaant to!

This wouldn't bother me, but the people harmed in these scams aren't just the faithful, they are the desperately ill. People like me. We've got enough problems, we don't need scam artists preying on us.


  1. Providing evidence, references or rational reasoning has never really been on Chris' agenda, has it?

    He typifies the mind of someone who is deep into confirmation bias. Remember, this is the guy who said;

    "I know that the Bible is God's Word because it says in the Bible that it is God's Word"

    No bullshit.

  2. I have to agree with you, PF: faith healers prey upon the weak. To a lesser extent. I tend to view homeopathy similarly, though there are admittedly sincere people who peddle the junk in question.

  3. I agree with your post (though I would say that my hatred is limited (somewhat) to faith healers who know that what they do is a sham but keep doing it anyway for the money or fame, as opposed to those who are genuinely deluded into thinking their hocus-pocus work, in which case I feel more pity for them than actual anger, though I still hate that they cause harm), but something you wrote piqued my idle and off-topic curiosity.

    About you saying you hate pedophiles … I may be waltzing into a thorny issue here (again), but do you make a distinction between pedophiles (ie. those who have a sexual attraction to children), and child molesters (ie. those who actually act on these pedophiliac (or otherwise) urges and sexually harm children)?

    It’s a subject I’ve written about before and have strong thoughts about, and I’d just like to pick your brains about it.

  4. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has spent MILLIONS of dollars researching so-called distance healing (prayer)and has come to the conclusion that it is not effective. The thing that bugs me is that this US government agency had to waste money on disproving prayer as a legitimate method of healing.

    And as for most homeopathy, I tend to believe it works if you're relatively healthy and believe it will work. Come to think of it, I could say the same thing for prayer. Prayer and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.

    However, if you have a sucking chest hole from a GSW (gun shot wound for those non medical types), a severely occluded coronary artery, or gangrene from a non-healing wound, go ahead and pray but you'd better get your ass to a hospital or you'll still end up dead.


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Faith healers who by intent scam people are doing more than just thieving. They make those who are seriously ill but want to believe that they can be healed by the power of their faith feel as if they are some how culpable for their *lack* of healing or recovery. To do that to a person who is desperately ill and grasping at whatever chance they feel they have to stay alive is simply despicable. I've actually known someone who felt that they were dying precisely because their faith had not been strong enough, and they felt that God had abandoned them as unworthy. Now if that's not awful on top of being terminally ill, I just don't know what is...

    (reposted with typo corrected)

  7. When I was younger one of my mom's friends was diagnosed with lung cancer. She ended up travelling with him and his wife to a few supposed Catholic faith healers. All it ended up doing was push his illness along faster since he couldn't receive any kind of treatment on the road. Faith healers are scum, pure and simple and frankly I won't distinguish the con artists from the true believers because the damage they end up doing is the same.

    Oh, and this:
    then rise from the dead on the third

    Annoys me every time I see it. If you're going to base your life so much on that book then learn how the Greeks (or Romans if the translation is from the vulgate) counted. Inclusive counting means we would call that two days. How so many Latin comprehending priests ignore this is beyond me.

  8. There are NEVER any provable results because of the use of faith healing. If there are any positive results after this form of mental masturbation, then they are coincidental.

    Mark from
    Proud Atheists

  9. Or: ''Why doesn't God heal amputees?''

    I don't know though, it really looks on that photo as if the tabby cat feeling some kind of energy.....

  10. what i really hate, more than the scam artists, are the people who *believe* the scam artists, and so then feel it's okay to fucking *judge* me - because if i were a "Good Christian" then i OBVIOUSLY wouldn't have these illnesses and disabilities, would i? [and those who find out i'm *not* a Christian are fucking WORSE]

    Joé - i'm not PF - but i think there *is* a difference.
    lots of people have LOTS of "bad impulses". if that's the way to put it...
    people are fucked up. what counts is what you *DO*.
    that's just my opinion, of course...

  11. @denelian:
    That’s my point exactly. One shouldn’t judge others for their ingrained impulses, regardless of how distasteful or “wrong” they may strike us as. Even pedophilia. In my book, the distinction between a pedophile and a child molester is in the same vein as the difference between any other form of sexual attraction – hetero, homo, zoo, whatever – and those who actually commit abuse or rape. The fact that some adults are unfortunately sexually attracted to minors doesn’t mean they’ll actually act on those impulses – just as my having an urge to strangle certain imbeciles to death doesn’t mean that I’ll actually do it.

    It’s all about one’s personal sense of morality, ethics, and self-control.

    (Just thought I’d digress for a moment. Carry on.)

  12. Joé -

    it's an interesting digression, which i'd like to poke at more, if it's ok?

    [and please - i don't think you will, but i state it to reassure - don't take this wrong :)]
    we have such a *weird* concept of "wrong", as a society.

    as you say, just because an adult has "unfortunate" [which is a better choice of words than mine, i think] attraction doesn't mean that they'll *act* on it - and it doesn't make them bad or wrong or evil. in a really weird way, i find those who DO have fucked-up impulses that they don't act upon more "good" than those who don't even have an urge to have fun. [what's a saint? a person who doesn't do what they want, because what they WANT can hurt, so they put they need of the other to be hurt of their own need to do what they want.]

    and it spins both ways - we revile those who mess with children, and all but spit on them - but those who harbor the same impulse, aimed at a slightly older form - *they*, we excuse. those who rape -adults- - or those who counted as adult, because "look at 'em, what else are they for?" type BS - what does society say about *them*?

    i don't understand it. i DON'T.
    not all men, not even MOST men, are rapists. and rape is a vile crime, no matter the age or gender of the person raped.
    but if the person raped is a female who *looks* adult - or just adult enough - then every [almost everyone... feminists and feminist allies excluded] say shit like "he couldn't help himself"

    what's the difference?
    i don't see one. in BOTH cases, rape of a child, rape of a not-child, what happens is a person gives in to their impulses.. no?

    sometimes i think the *only* reason "society" is so against the rape of children [as opposed to the rape of women] is the SAME reason "society" is against homosexuality - the majority don't have those proclivities, those impulses, so they don't *understand* them, so they reject them. wheras most of "society" DOES understand "normal sex" [hetero-sex, cis-gendered sex, etc], and they "understand" that "women HAVE sex, men TAKE sex", and so rape of a female person who doesn't look like a child doesn't look like RAPE to them - it just looks like sex. even battered and bloody and broken, what most people see when they look at a woman who's been raped, what they see is a "slut" or a "whore" or even worse a "cock-tease" who brought it on herself, because she is female, and that's what they're for. if she'd just given him the sex that he was *DUE*, he wouldn't have raped her.

    it's not different. it's just more understandable to the majority. :(

    am i wrong? is there something i'm missing, some clue that shows me it's not like this? i *want* to be wrong... but...

    i don't know how to fix that. if it can be fixed. i mean, i can guess - but the extreme measures i can see fixing it wouldn't work fully, and would cause more damage than they repair, and even then... [i can see taking all children to be raised in creches, where they are taught from day 1 to respect everyone equally. except it would never really work - if nothing else, the attitudes of those who raised and taught the kids would infect, and hell, half the time when *I* first hear about a rape, my first thought is "what was she" i can generally *STOP* at that point, but we're all used to it, innured to it, and it happens without us wanting it to...]
    there has to be *some* way, but i don't know what it is.

  13. *in my definition of saint - i dropped "not" - the need to NOT be hurt, and i somehow also lost the word "ahead" - "ahead of their need"...

    also: sorry to be depressing. there's been a LOT of Bad Stuff happening, lately, the world over :(

  14. @denelian:
    You make a lot of good points, there, and I pretty much fully agree with everything you said. I don’t have much to add; you noted how you were trying to think of a solution, but of course, the only remotely possible answer is that we, as people of reason and sensibility who don’t (or at least, people who try not to) judge others because of what they are (in terms of sexuality or any other ingrained impulses), must find a way to try and influence the public tide for the better. You know, education and all that.

    In the end, though, there likely is no good solution; people are irrational and prejudiced by nature. For example, just look at how those who’ve been falsely accused of molesting a child – ie. of “being a pedophile” – are treated: they’re generally as ostracized and derided as though they actually had committed the crime. This just indicates how people are generally unwilling to listen to reason and are far more happy to typecast people and label them forever. And once you’ve been labeled, it becomes highly difficult, if not impossible, to “redeem” yourself in the public eye.


    Joé -

    that's an unerrily accurate shot :( it's *so* very easy to judge, and people seem to like to judge a whole lot. [hell, i do it often - i like to think that i'm not a complete ass, though - i mean, after seeing Paris Hilton's performance in "Repo", i was heard - to my dismay - to say "good gods, who'd'a thought the spoiled rich girl could ACT?!"
    i mean, i was making fun of myself, too - but i admit, i had pretty much pigeon-holed Paris as "spoiled rich girl whose so bored even sex scandals are better. poor dog..."]

    but we so often judge with no evidence, as you say...

    hell, i had to move to OHIO to get away from the label of "whore" because my step-father raped me [i was *12* the first time it happened - but i looked 17 or 18, so "obviously" i has "seduced" the 56-year-old-abusive-and-dirty-evil-bastard.] and the neighbors were just too enamored of the drama. [they knew. they even said snide things to my mom - who had no clue WTF. ]
    and it really was the drama, too - they weren't invested in any other way. we hadn't lived there more than 3 months, when they found out. and when CPS finally found out 4 years later, they all got yelled at - because even *IF* they had been "right" [oh dear gods *shudder*] it was *STILL* rape, child abuse, molestation - two of them almost got charged as accessories for not reporting it.
    [which, i guess i'm petty - that STILL makes me giggle, 17 years later]

    i keep chiping away, trying to get the judgement out of MYSELF, out of my friends and family.

  16. Forgive me for interjecting into your story, but they should have been charged. To know about something so horrible and not only neglect to report it for that long, but to actually taunt you

    Fucking Christ. At least CPS reamed them, as you said; personally, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they just agreed with them that you had seduced the sick fuck or something. Little vileness or outrageous crap surprises me in the slightest anymore – hell, I expect it.

    I dunno much about Paris Hilton so I can’t honestly comment, though it’s true that everything I’ve ever heard about her was her whoring herself to the media one way or another. I think South Park probably had it right with their portrayal of her being that she’d probably stuff a pineapple up herself if she could.

    Anyway … hope you’re okay.

  17. i'm fairly certain that CPS eventually *did* believe me. not because of what i said [i never told them much - we got a new principle, who heard waaaaaay too many rumors, and called me into the office one day... HE knew that, even if i had "seduced" Thomas, i was *12* when it started. didn't hurt that i had a broken nose and various bruises, not all of them well hid. if *I* had called CPS, they probably would have agreed with the neighbors. i didn't, and i had too many contusions and scrapes and such for them to think i was "willing". so - first time anyone cared, so that was extra special...]

    PTSD isn't fun, but i'm slowly getting better. [and it helps to know that, while they didn't go to jail, both of them are forbidden to work with kids, ever. :) ]

    as for Paris - or any other celebrity - i don't envy them. i feel bad for them... sad, even. they either whore themselves, or get forgotten. which is an indictment against society, as much as against them.

  18. That’s why I so cleverly have no public or social life. Can’t fear slipping into obscurity if you’re never known to begin with. Besides, I’ve been a loner all my life and that’s not about to change, so all the better, I guess.

    Anyway, I’m just glad to hear that stuff got sorted out in the end after all that time. Have a happy one. =)

  19. There is one in my front room right now talking to my terminaly ill mother, for her sake i am not voicing my opinion but the urge to is growing expodentialy i went in to ask if she wanted tea and they were talking about some person who "spoke to jesus in an ambulance" obviously this had nothing to do with the massive ammounts of morphine the guy was on!!! I HATE FAITH HEALERS. in my mind they are equal to dirt and nothing more!!!

  20. Adam - that's horrible. i hope your mother isn't additionally hurt by it.
    it's cruel, preying on the hopeless. i can only hope that it has a placebo effect and makes her feel at least somewhat better. and i REALLY hope that he's not a *total* scammer, trying to get money or something :(
    i send GoodThoughts.


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