A young child with spina bifida and splints on his legs tears them off and bolts across the stage. He cries as he declares that his legs have strength like never before.
"The boy's been healed," says the preacher as thousands cheer him on.
Meanwhile, Bill Wise sits quietly with one arm raised to the sky, the other tightly clutching his 2-year-old daughter, who was born with her bladder and colon outside of her body.
He prays for a miracle.
Todd Bentley, a tattooed Canadian, stands with a microphone in one hand and the other stretched out to this electrified crowd of nearly 10,000.
"Bam!" He yells. "Bam, bam, bam!"
Several people onstage with him collapse to the ground.
My favorite faith healer story (because, much like cold readers or other scam artists, they perfect a few stories and keep repeating them over and over again) is the "Jesus found me money" story. Usually, the way this works is some broke parishoner asks, begs, pleads for God to help them with money. Now, having read the Gospels, one would think that the benevolent Messiah would, in His infinite and caring wisdom, maybe help you realize you can go back to school to get a better job, or let a classified ad flutter to your lap, were His methods to be entirely cliche.
However, it always seems to rectify itself through receiving a check in the mail - an overpayment of taxes to the government being the one I've seen at least three times so far. The Almighty is apparently a careless fuckbag with a penchant for convenient rectification of His costly and unnecessary bureaucratic errors in faith-healer world.
ABC News investigates Todd Bentley, a "faith-healer" who's drawing thousands of victims...I mean, believers. No, wait, I really do mean victims. The fundamental problem I have with faith-healers isn't the faithful. I'm an atheist who believes that faith is a truly beautiful and yes, useful thing - albeit one I don't particularly feel the need for. It can add a beauty and a texture to life that gives strength even in the hardest of times, and it's a belief I begrudge no one so long as it is undertaken with the full and fair acceptance of those who believe differently or not at all (even respecting the right to evangelize).
What I hate are the people who prey on the faithful in dire need, the people who knowingly give them false hope based on overt lies which others are led to believe are "miracles" and who, when asked to provide verification of the (usually profitable) enterprise they're engaged in, always seem to pull this shit:
When asked to present evidence of the healings, Bentley promised to give "Nightline" the names and medical records of three followers who would talk openly about his miracles. He never delivered. Instead, his staff gave "Nightline" a binder filled with what he says are inspiring miracles, but with scant hard evidence. It offered incomplete contact information, a few pages of incomplete medical records, and the doctors' names were crossed out.
When pressed further, Bentley provided the name of a woman in California who had a large tumor in her uterus that shrank after she saw Bentley.
Her husband, however, told "Nightline" that it could be a coincidence because she was still undergoing medical treatment. He said she was too ill to talk to the media.
The husband did provide some of his wife's medical records from a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where she went for cancer treatment after being turned away by American hospitals. The wife, however, insisted on obscuring the clinic's name and the names of the doctors.
Not a single claim of Bentley's healing powers could be independently verified.
Few people without bombs and guns further propagate a distrust and even loathing of religion than these assholes, who by comparison make Wal-Mart seem like a wholly upright and ethical enterprise focused solely on your well being. Kick a faith-healer for me the next time you see one, okay?