Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Another Lying Faith Healer

The New York Times has an article about yet another faith healing preacher, Darlene Bishop of Solid Rock megachurch in Ohio, shown to be a baldfaced liar. She tells people that she cured herself of breast cancer and cured her brother of throat cancer; two of her siblings are suing her and some interesting things are coming out in that case.

On her Web site, Ms. Bishop promises that the book reveals “how God healed her of breast cancer” and a brother of throat cancer.

Nowhere, though, does she mention, that the brother, Darrell Perry, a successful country music songwriter whom everyone called Wayne, died from the cancer a year and a half ago.


And that breast cancer she allegedly healed herself of? It will come as a surprise to no one who has done any research at all on the faith healing scam that she never had it in the first place:

In a sworn deposition responding to two lawsuits filed by Mr. Perry’s four children, Ms. Bishop stated that no doctor ever diagnosed the breast cancer she referred to prominently in her book. Instead, Ms. Bishop testified, she thought that she had cancer in 1986 and that it was cured.

Gee, what a shock. It’s incredibly easy to be cured of diseases you never had. But it actually gets much worse:

According to Ms. Bishop’s book, when her brother arrived at her front door, he confirmed that he had cancer, and she replied, “Let that be the last time those words ever come from your mouth.”

In her deposition, Ms. Bishop said Mr. Perry had decided on his own to disregard doctors’ advice that he immediately begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments. But Mr. Perry’s children contend that their aunt persuaded him to forgo medical treatment and rely on a process of faith healing that, Ms. Bishop wrote in her book, God had explained to her in a revelation.

“He was laying in bed dying, and she had him convinced that he was healed,” said Mr. Perry’s son Justin Jones, 28, who lived in Ms. Bishop’s house for a year caring for his father.

As his throat tumors swelled to the size of tennis balls, Mr. Perry stopped eating, Mr. Jones said. His weight dropped to 84 pounds. He did consent to chemotherapy, Mr. Jones said, but only after the tumors had restricted his breathing to the point that he collapsed. The chemotherapy shrank the tumors, Mr. Jones said, and his father began eating again.

In her book, Ms. Bishop describes her brother’s spiritual awakening and the improvement in his condition, but she does not mention his chemotherapy.

As Mr. Perry regained strength, he and Ms. Bishop went on a nationwide tour of evangelical churches, promoting Ms. Bishop’s book about his miraculous recovery, his children said. Against his doctor’s advice, Mr. Perry stopped chemotherapy, Mr. Jones said.

On Oct. 13, 2004, an oncologist, Dr. Albert Malcolm, wrote a letter telling Mr. Perry that his cancer was terminal. Mr. Perry forwarded the letter to Janet Perry-McCormick, his former wife, after writing across the top, “Destroy this letter after you read it,” and, “Only you and Darlene know this.”

The note is proof that Ms. Bishop knew her brother was dying but concealed it from the public while continuing to promote her book, Mr. Perry’s children said in interviews, but in her deposition, Ms. Bishop said she learned of Dr. Malcolm’s diagnosis after Mr. Perry died in May 2005.

A faith healer claiming healings of non-existent diseases and exploiting the sick and dying for profit. Who woulda thunk it?

Comments

  1. #1 tacitus
    January 2, 2007

    D. James Kennedy, that well-known purveyor of creationist snake oil from Fort Lauderdale is (at the moment) in intensive care recovering from a severe heart attack. How long before talk of a miraculous recovery start? (Not that his wife giving him CPR and living 5 minutes from a hospital had anything to do with his survival.)

    And, of course, one has to wonder why God would allow him to almost be killed in the first place.

    No doubt there will be many plausible explanations to convince the believing masses, and I guess it’s a mistake to even attempt to apply reason and logic in the first place.

  2. #2 Dwimr
    January 2, 2007

    Yeah, after the MI and the hurricane almost destroying his church, D. James has to start wondering if he’s praying to the wrong god.

    On the other hand, that god is been pretty good to Leroy:

    http://www.leroyjenkins.com/miracles.html

  3. #3 DuWayne
    January 2, 2007

    This is ruthless, horrible woman. Unfortunately, I doubt that this lawsuit has legal merit. Mr. Perry made the decision to ignore treatment, Ms. Bishop just encouraged him to do so. One can only hope that the resulting publicity will firmly denounce that nasty woman’s “teachings.” Not that those who truly Believe in her “teachings” will care, to them this is obviously a satanic plot to denounce their “wise” teacher.

  4. #4 TheFallibleFiend
    January 2, 2007

    Duwayne,
    There may be some people who wise up, but I wouldn’t count on it. Some years ago a very famous faith-healer named Peter Popoff was caught in the act of scamming people. Apparently, before James Randi, nobody thought it was suspicious that a faith-healer would use a hearing aid. JR taped Popoff’s wife sending him information that she had earlier collected by mingling with the audience.

    1. It is said that the Popoff’s really cared about the people, but his wife’s taped messages belie that point. She refers to them as fat slobs and stupid looking and so forth. The Popoffs saw these people as sheep to be bilked.

    2. It is said that they actually did a lot of good, but as a sign of faith these people were asked – and DID – throw up medicines that could really help them in an emergency: digitalis, insulin, etc.

    But here’s the relevant part to this discussion: after the scam was demonstrated, there were STILL people who stood by him and insisted that SOME of his healings were genuine. And the guy is active today scamming a new generation!

    I might be misremembering some details, but you can check out old issues of Skeptical Inquirer for the real skinny. When people want to believe, when they’re desperate to believe, then they’ll accept the scammers words no matter out obscene or blatantly false the claims.

  5. #5 CPT_Doom
    January 2, 2007

    You know, these stories just burn me up, because I knew a real faith-healer, although he would never have referred to himself that way, and his story is so different from these charlatans that it’s simply astounding. When I was in junior high, in Massachusetts, we had an area priest who was revived after briefly dying. After this incident, he was reported to have healing powers, and my family knew two of the men he allegedly healed, including one man with a degenerative spinal disease (crippling, but not life-threatening) and another with a slow-growing, but still potentially fatal, brain tumor. In neither case was either man “miraculously” healed. In the first case, although physicians could find no medical explanation for it, the spinal condition began to reverse and the man was able to regain his ability to walk over about 6 months, with heavy physical therapy, after being healed by the priest. In the second case, the tumor simply stopped growing, and the man far outstripped his doctors’ estimates for how long he would live.

    These were not the only people believed healed by this priest, and the result was a complete loss of personal space for the man. He had to give up parish work, which he loved, and go into hiding, because he was being hounded by the sick and dying wherever he went. He obtained permission from the bishop to have a special healing ministry (focusing on the Roman Catholic “Sacrament of the Sick” – what used to be the Last Rites), although he never promised cures and never claimed to have any effect other than prayer and comfort for those afflicted. He would hold specific religious services for the sick, but had to remain in hiding in between them in order to have any semblance of a life.

    The experience was terribly troubling for this priest, and he literally seemed to be aging before your eyes during the first few years of his ministry. I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but heard he had died while relatively young, and the consensus was that this “gift” of healing was his ultimate downfall.

    I do not know if this priest ever really had healing powers, and as I said above he never claimed any, but there were certainly those who had positive experiences after being prayed over by him. The thing is, he never used this alleged gift for personal gain, never pulled any showbusiness-ish dramatic “rise and walk” stuff, and certainly never promised beneficial effects. Contrast this guy with these types of faith healers, and I think it is obvious who is a fake.

  6. #6 DuWayne
    January 2, 2007

    Fallible Fiend -

    Trust me, I know how the apologists work. Hell, I used to be one, thinking that all the accusations against Benny Hinn were just the work of Satan. But that started with me not being amazed at all, that God would work such grand miracles through this annointed man of God. I wasn’t amazed, because I truly believed that the god that I worshiped, regularly performs such miracles. When you start with that supposition, it is easy to defend these “men and women of God,” even when rational evidence is to the contrary. This is not dissimilar to the way creationists justify their views in the face of overwhelming evidence for evolution.

  7. #7 GH
    January 2, 2007

    I do not know if this priest ever really had healing powers, and as I said above he never claimed any, but there were certainly those who had positive experiences after being prayed over by him. The thing is, he never used this alleged gift for personal gain

    He was a humble man CPT. I doubt he had any healing ability though. We can all recount a few stories of healing but what we often forget are the numbers that are not healed. They are dismissed. When the entire picture is put together it has always turned out to be nothing above the statistical norm.

  8. #8 Brian X
    January 2, 2007

    I grew up Catholic, and I remember in one of the kid’s books I had on the Seven Sacraments a chapter on the subject of Last Rites. A little girl sat at her grandmother’s deathbed, and the priest came in to anoint her; the grandmother died shortly after, before the priest even left the room. The little girl was very confused — wasn’t the priest supposed to heal her? Well, she was in heaven now…

    That story always creeped me out back in the day, and now I find it thoroughly ghastly. It’s fine to deal with death, but putting it the way that story did is just too much for very young children.

  9. #9 Art
    January 2, 2007

    The first time my kids drove past that church (separate occasions), they both shrieked in horror. That monstrosity next to I-75 should be a pretty clear sign to be skeptical about the proprietors. It’s a pretty surreal vision that, um, amazes drivers and passengers alike.

    The picture at the church’s web site doesn’t do justice to the experience of seeing it from the highway. (I won’t put a URL here – don’t want to scare the little’uns.) It’s enough to change one’s mind about laws that restrict what one can build and display on their property (if one is inclined to oppose them, that is).

  10. #10 DuWayne
    January 2, 2007

    Art, please post a URL, I am curious if it is what I am guessing it is, based on your limited description.

  11. #11 Beth
    January 2, 2007

    If you’re interested in bogus faith healers, you’d probably like reading _God’s Perfect Child_ by Caroline Fraser, about a faith healing church with undue political influence.

  12. #12 Art
    January 2, 2007

    http://www.solidrockchurch.org/

    It’s on I-75 between Cinci and Dayton

  13. #13 JohnnieCanuck
    January 4, 2007

    And on their site you will find a link to their i.Tithe Online page, where you guessed it; you can arrange for convenient, automatic debits every week or month, your choice.

  14. #14 DuWayne
    January 4, 2007

    Art -
    Not quite what I was thinking, but close enough – especialy the size. Am I right in assuming it’s about 15 – 25 feet? It’s really hard to judge it’s scale by the buildings in the picture.

    A friend of mine, has a picture of himself standing under a thirty some foot Jesus, with bloody hands and side, in color, holding a cross. It was put up at a church camp ground – rather disturbing really.

    JohnnieCanuck -
    How else do you figure they can aford the spread pictured on their site, or the statue for that matter. Or the plastic surgery, come down to it.

  15. #15 sam
    January 9, 2007

    It makes me genuinely sad that this man died earlier because of her. Even more sad that when it proves completely wrong, people still follow this crap, like CPT_Doom. It’s amazing, and once again sad, that belief in myths is still hurting us in the 21st century.

  16. #16 Justin Moretti
    January 10, 2007

    I think CPT_Doom’s examples are in the realm of things that could be explained by conventional medicine, although we don’t have all the details. Tumours do regress, and the fellow with the degenerative disease still needed a lot of work before he could walk again. Otherwise, he seems to have been more a healer of the souls of the sick than their bodies. I can live with that, especially since he seems not to have actually made claims that he was any good at curing disease.

    People who pull other people away from proven effective (even if not curative) therapies are, in my mind, either terribly deluded or terribly ignorant or terribly evil. Only the second is amenable to correction, I fear.

    HOWEVER: If you are Christian, lying as has been described in the original post (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”, one of the Big Ten) and dying unrepentant will earn you a ticket to the Eternal Oven, where all the chemo patients wave happily from the air conditioned galleries as they show off their first wisps of frizzy new hair and their pristine MRI scans. :-p

  17. #17 Clayton
    January 10, 2007

    Thanks for the link(solidrockchurch.org) Art. I’d been wondering where that was. I saw a pic of that statue not long ago with a caption saying “TOUCHDOWN!!!”…made me laugh.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/solidrockchurch/

    “Unfortunately, I doubt that this lawsuit has legal merit.”


    I don’t know that it’s unfortunate. Should we really be able to prosecute someone simpy because we accepted really bad advice from them? He had to have understood that she was not a medical expert. Was she claiming to be?

    True, she may have had a motive given that she was named beneficiary to $260,000.

    How many times in you life have you accepted bad advice that has hurt you financially, emotionally, or physically? How many times have you given bad advice? The courts would be inundated if that constituted a crime.

    I’m of the opinion that were you to convince me to jump of a building saying, “God will catch you,” I’d be at fault for doing it. You’d just be either, stupid, albeit less stupid than I, or an asshole, though not a criminal.

    He was an adult, his mental fitness in making that decision was implicitly endorsed by the medical community when they honored his decision.

    As far as profiting from lying in a book, come on. Are lies in books uncommon? In 1984 Judge Breckenridge called L. Ron Hubbard “a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements” but, that wasn’t what the law suit was about. So, here’s a case where clearly the court recognised that the author lied, and clearly he profited. Should all his readers have grounds for a class action suit? Think about the profound repercussions in news and publishing. Maybe some good, however, I suspect that, on a whole, it would be a bad idea. Just my opinion though.

  18. #18 anonimouse
    January 10, 2007

    http://www.solidrockchurch.org/

    It’s on I-75 between Cinci and Dayton

    Ugh, that’s why the name was so familliar to me. I lived in that part of the world for a while, and used to think that any church that ostentatious had to be a scam.

    Bingo.

  19. #19 Lisa
    January 31, 2007

    I got slapped in the face hard by her husband at church, when they had called people to go up to the altar if anyone needed prayer for healing. I couldn’t believe it and I held my face with one hand and with my head turned backwards facing into the pews saw a lady who had witnessed that LAUGH with glee….imagine my trauma…the only thing I could think of was that I had rejected their sonin fear of any romantic interests from him.

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