Faith healings from Christian prayer groups healed Cancers, AIDS and Barren Wombs (infertile women).
These claims widely promoted across world say Faith healings from Christian prayer groups have healed many serious health ailments like Cancers, AIDS and Barren Wombs (infertile women). Surprisingly, there are number of believers of these spiritual, faith healings. Faith can move mountains they say, but is this really possible? Let us analyze in detail and find facts about these ‘miracle’ claims.
About Faith Healing
Faith healing is a practice that attempts to cure a wide range of health ailments primarily through prayers and sometimes augmented by faith-based rituals. It stemmed from the belief that certain people or places have the ability to connect to the higher power (God) to heal injuries and eliminate diseases.
Most of us are aware of the public shows where a group of religious people or the head of a particular missionary appear on Television to demonstrate their ‘magical’ connection with god and their miraculous cure of faith healings. Commonly known as Televangelists, they were widely popular till 1980s until skeptic James Randi debunked popular myths of Reverend Peter Popoff from his own show in 1986.
Peter Popoff was a German American televangelist, a self-proclaimed prophet and faith healer, who used to conduct revival meetings and had a national television program through which he became very popular in the 1980s. He even claimed to have visited Heaven for some weeks and that he personally spoke to God. In the video shown below, you can watch James Randi explaining how he debunked the false faith healing claims of Peter Popoff.
During his TV shows, Popoff’s wife Elizabeth Popoff used to interact with him secretly through a wireless headphone backstage and convey him all the necessary information obtained from “prayer cards” filled out by the attendees. It was from this information Peter Popoff used to address the crowd and convey them as divine messages from God. Furthermore, skeptics James Randi and Alexander (Alec) Jason also found that he used con artists with nonexistent diseases in his public shows to pretend he has cured them. According to James Randi in 1987, Popoff took in almost $4 million per year.
Stephen Barrett (M.D.), an American retired psychiatrist, author and co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) details in his website QuackWatch.org that over the years skeptics who have investigated these miraculous claims through prayers and faith did not find any strong evidence.
Leading to Deaths
According to a Oct 2011 BBC report (bbc.co.uk), at least three people in London with HIV had died after they stopped taking life saving antiretroviral drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors who said God would heal them.
In March 2011, the Oregon House approved a bill that would remove legal protection for parents who choose faith healing over medical intervention when treating their children. This happened in response to an Oregon City church that has a long history of child deaths even though the conditions from which the children died were medically treatable.
American Cancer Society
According to the American Cancer Society (Cancer.org), a review published in 1998 which studied 172 death cases of children treated by faith healing instead of conventional methods has shown that if conventional treatment was given, the survival rate for most of them would have been more than 90 percent. Another study conducted on adults in 1989 suggested that Christian Scientists, who use prayer rather than medical care, have a higher death rate than other people of the same age. Note, Christian Scientists do not use medicine. They believe illness is an illusion caused by faulty beliefs and spiritual prayer will heal them.
‘Miracle’ Study Scandal
On 2 Oct. 2001, the New York Times (nytimes.com) reported that researchers at prestigious Columbia University Medical Center in New York had discovered something extraordinary – scientific researchers had demonstrated that infertile women who were prayed for by Christian prayer groups became pregnant twice as often as those who did not have people praying for them. The study claimed to have found that distant prayer by anonymous prayer groups increased the success rate of IVF (In vitro fertilization) in women by an astounding 100 percent. The prayer groups were thousands of miles away from the study subjects. They prayed over photographs that were faxed to them. The study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine came as a shock to the researchers who could only describe it as miraculous.