25th Jan 2005:
OPERATION TOI DECOY
US pastor ‘cures’ hale and hearty man By Smitha Rao and Hemali Chhapia/Times Of India
Bangalore: Jakkur Airstrip onstage, 9.30 pm: US pastor Benny Hinn’s ‘healing’ session is in progress and the entire ground is reverberating with cries of ‘rise and heal’.
After a dozen or so testimonies, comes this man who jumps the fence to reach the stage. He explains his ‘ailment’ to the volunteers.“Pastor, pastor, this man here has not walked for years. But today, a wonderful miracle has happened to him. He can walk, run, jump... in fact, he jumped across the fence,’’ says an American volunteer whose job onstage is to recount people’s cases and the apparent miracles. “Hallelujah! Shall we have a huge round of applause for this glorious feat of the Lord? I told you, none of you will leave this place sick,’’ pastor Hinn replies.
The ‘cured’ man jumps and runs about on stage. Hinn gives him a slight nudge on the chin. But the man does not collapse, unlike many others who do as they ‘feel’ electric current pass through their bodies.
The inside story: Meet the ‘healed’ man: P Raj (name changed), a decoy planted by the Times of India to find out how Hinn’s medical team separate the wheat from the chaff. How they identify the truly ‘cured’ from those who might have had a psychosomatic cure or those who fake one to get onstage. Modus operandi: This man, actually in fine health, came to the prayer meet pretending to have a pronounced limp, and was put in the ‘sick’ enclosure. As the ‘healing’ session began, and with Hinn asking people to touch the affected part, this man started screaming that he was cured. And that he could walk without the limp. Like him, thousands of people claimed a cure and jostled to go on stage.
Men in white coats: Doctors (belonging to Benny Hinn Inc.) explained to this paper that they could make out the ‘really cured’ from those who were not. “We check them meticulously. We cannot explain these miracles, but they are happening. They are being cured. We can make out who has been cured and we send only such persons onstage,’’ explained one doctor who refused to be named.
Raj was certified cured by the doctors. For the record, however, Raj was not afflicted with any malady but was enthusiastically pulled onto the stage to testify his ‘cure’.
Related Incident : Colonel Samuel (retd) suffers from immobility of the right side of the body. Hoping for a miracle, he, with wife in tow, managed to shuffle up to the stage, only to be jostled away by an organiser who said, “Only if you are healed can you go on stage. If you’re not healed by Jesus, your time has not come.’’ n And are they really cured forever? Why are there no doctors from city hospitals but mostly from Hinn’s ‘ministry’? What actually is the miracle and what is his modus operandi?
Neither Hinn nor his stooges have any answer except for a tepid, “Faith’’. One question that will probably never be answered is: how many of those healed will wake up one of these mornings, after Hinn has left for greener pastures, feeling unhealed? Like all faith healers, Benny Hinn Inc is unwilling to open his healing claims to scientific scrutiny.
Hinn versus Hinn
· 10 pm, Friday: Jesus is alive and visits me regularly. He tells me miracles will happen and people will be cured.
· 11 pm, Saturday: One question I’m going to ask Jesus when I meet Him is, why don’t some people get healed and some do?
· Friday night: Our ministry will take care of this show. We will not accept contributions till the Lord tells me the further course of action.
Saturday night: Hinn exhorts people to contribute generously. “We need this kind of money, what with my shows being translated into Hindi and 17 other Indian languages.’’