When faith healers attack

While I’m taking some time to rag on TV news for its ludicrously credulous reporting of various “alternative” medicine claims, take a gander at this puff piece on a faith healer.

Where’s James Randi when you need him? True, the story mentioned that not one of this faith healer’s “healings” could be independently verified with objective information and data, but the rest of the tone of the story is quite credulous.

My answer to ABC News (remember: Steve Wilson works for an ABC affiliate) is this video:

The video speaks for itself. Bentley just kicked a guy with stage IV colon cancer in the gut. Even though the cancer patient doesn’t look bad for someone with metastatic cancer, thanks to modern oncologic medicine (not faith healing or woo!) many patients with stage IV colon cancer can have extended periods of time where they feel pretty good and have a good quality of life, this is cruel and not a good idea. (Indeed, my best friend’s dad is proof of this.) Even so, depending on the location and extent of his metastatic cancer, kicking a guy that hard (and the guy did look as though he was in considerable pain afterward) risks making his tumors bleed or other injury. If you want true idiocy, however, check out Bentley’s response to the video above:

Notice how he doesn’t say whether his victim was actually “healed” or not, whether the cancer really “came out of his body in the name of Jesus” or not.

When faith healers attack, the faithful suffer. Bentley makes the guy who thinks he’s the Second Coming of Jesus seem harmless by comparison.


  1. #1 Niobe
    July 10, 2008

    But how can this be Orac? non-conventional medicine is so gentle!

    What Would Jesus Do indeed.

    The scary part isn’t that he’s bitchslapping cancer patient, the scary part is that there’s a posse 10 thousand strong waiting in line to be next, lapping it up and believing this guy is The Real Deal.

  2. #2 barbie123
    July 10, 2008

    Interesting word choice in Popeye…er, the Reverend Bentley’s response: he doesn’t, as you noted, indicate that he “healed” the poor guy, but he does gleefully acknowledge that he “slapped and kicked” him. Take that, Cancer!

    Don’t know which is more disturbing: the tatooed faith healer beating the crap out of that poor man, or the maniacal glee on the faces of the “believers” as the camera pans the crowd.

  3. #3 Blaidd Drwg
    July 10, 2008

    How many times must it be demonstrated, that unquestioning faith is fundamentally irrational, and an apparent sign of serious brain damage?!?!

  4. #4 DLC
    July 10, 2008

    Gah. it’s bad enough when scammers like Peter Popoff and Ernest Angeley slap people on the forehead, but kicking someone with stage IV colon cancer ? Gawds. why not just offer him some Jim Jones Koolaid ?

  5. #5 tincture
    July 10, 2008

    This guy learned everything he knows about Oncology from Russell Crowe.

  6. #6 NM
    July 10, 2008


    Definitely the quote of the day.

  7. #7 Feynmaniac
    July 11, 2008

    You fools, he has found the cure for cancer! Next time I see someone with a brain tumour I’m gonna give them a swift punch in the back of the head. Lung cancer? Take a chair right to their chest. Breast cancer? I’m gonna slap that tit. You don’t even wanna know what I’m gonna do to that man with testicular cancer.

  8. #8 Phoenix Woman
    July 11, 2008

    Bentley makes a piss-poor dominant. “Safe, sane and consensual” is obviously not part of his lexicon.

  9. #9 Shygetz
    July 11, 2008

    This is the first time I’ve ever said this about anyone, but…I REALLY hope Bentley gets testicular cancer. I’ll gladly heal him myself, no charge.

  10. #10 Jon H
    July 11, 2008

    Fools want to combine church with wrestling.

  11. #11 Emory K.
    July 11, 2008

    A newspaper in Naples, Florida, offers more responsible and skeptical reporting:


  12. #12 barbie123
    July 11, 2008

    Emory: thanks for the link. I didn’t need to read much beyond this quote:

    “Someone’s getting a new spinal cord tonight!”
    Bentley yelled in one service.

    I must admit to peeking below that quote, however: the reference to the “parishoner” who now claims to “see” out of his prosthetic glass eye was equally entertaining. . . and equally sad.

    How far removed are these “believers” from those who support CAM?

  13. #13 Swiftsure
    July 12, 2008

    It is about time that Todd Bentley was exposed for what he is. I came across this character a couple of months ago when I was idly flicking through the cable channels, and I have watched him closely ever since.

    It is incredible to see people being “healed” but not only with the claim that a cancer or any other disease you can think of has been cured, but that people are being given brand new lungs, livers, knees, spinal cords and even gold teeth.

    His most outrageous claim is that he has also resurrected the dead! When I heard him make this claim, however, he did add the proviso “Don’t ask me to raise someone who has been dead and buried for six months – that would be ridiculous.” Quite.

    I did get a rare laugh at him once, though. A young man seeking a cure said that he really wanted healing for his mother who has been confined to a wheelchair for a long time. Bentley asked him, “Is your mom paralysed, or just crippled?” Eh?

    If you watch Bentley at work, one thing you can detect is the desperation of many of the people who come up onto the stage. I feel very sorry for those who medical science is unable to cure, and very annoyed that they are being given false hope. Given the fact that Bentley is constantly claiming to have medical evidence of these healings, why aren’t doctors all over the world racing to the scientific journals or the press with news of these miracles? GOD TV would have this sort of confirmation on air in a flash.

    If you watch closely, however, the game is given away when Bentley is dealing with children. One child (about 12 years old) said she was blind and wanted healing. After a bit of mumbo-jumbo, Bentley asked her if she could now see. But with the honesty that can come only from a child, she said, “No.” Another child, about the same age, wanted his deafness cured, but the same thing happened, and no cure. This doesn’t faze Bentley in the slightest. He just goes over to the other side of the stage to do his next healing, and when he returns, the child is nowhere to be seen.

    I am not going to be too surprised if Bently manages to kill someone with one of his heavenly kicks or punches. Considering the fact that once the people he “heals” have left the stage they are never heard from again, and there is no follow-up on their condition, it is going to take a tragedy to make anyone in authority act.

    Orac, if you want a bottomless pit of woo for your Friday mornings, just take a look at GOD TV, owned and run by Rory and Wendy “smart” Alec. They are a couple of smarmy, sugar-coated bible-bashers who just ooze sincerity (as they say, if you can fake that, you’ve got it made). I am particularly fascinated by Wendy Alec, who often launches into a lengthy, non-stop praise of god, usually interspersing her rapid-fire adulation with “speaking in tongues” (a.k.a. complete gibberish). But at least she manages to revert to clear English when she has to remind the faithful to send money.

    As you might guess, they are keen to defend Bentley, but have not provided a shred of evidence that he is effective at anything other than drawing the crowds and their donations.

    I simply despair at the thought of how many people are going to die because they put their faith in Todd Bentley rather than evidence-based medicine.

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