By Narendra Nayak, President of Federation of Indian Rationalist Association
Bangalore, Jan 13, 2014: Yes, the circus is in town again, the Benny Hinn show. A tele evangelist with his (in)famous God channel stunts of making the deaf her, dumb speak, the lame walk etc. He has been here before and if I am right it was a decade ago that he came here to pray for the souls of those who perished in the tsunami. Now, that is here again the issues raised by his conduct still remain and so does the reaction to his stunts.
Benny Hinn has claimed many cures without any evidence, in fact the evidence has been to the contrary. A number of TV channels have exposed his fraud, including the beating of a deaf person causing serious injuries in Brazil. One of his greatest miracles is the so called reconciliation with his divorced wife whom he divorced in 2010 only to remarry her in 2013! In fact there have been inquiries about him by the US senate, documentaries which have proved his fraud of healing and in fact one of his critics has remarked that “If I had seen miracles [from Hinn’s ministry], I would have been happy to trumpet it...but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist."! And one can imagine this coming from the director of a documentary who was trailing him for a year filming his ‘healing’ sessions!
His claims of healing are a clever mixture of hype, (mis)use of the placebo effect, setting up of ‘healed’ patients and misleading the authorities about the purpose of his programs. In fact, last week a judgment of the Karnataka High court went against the appellant who had asked the court to stop his circus. The court had remarked that he had the right to preach his religion under the constitution of our country. So, that was a setback for those who wanted to to stop him legally. On the other hand we have had protests and objections from groups who are following double standards! When the proponents of their own religions go to the West and preach their religion, these people claim to be impressed by the effect their teachings have on the westerners and remark how even ‘they’ have discovered the greatness of our religion. On the other hand if someone from there comes here and preaches then they shout to the skies that the great religion is under threat! These protests have gone to the extent of one trying to commit ‘suicide’ to protest his shoe being held at Bengaluru on the 15th inst.
Another interesting thing to watch would be as what our proclaimed atheist Chief minister would do about this? Is he going to grace this function with his august presence? If so what about his calims of atheism? Well, if Benny Hinn is going to preach his religion let him- it is his constitutional right though he is not a citizen of India. But, there is a rider to this freedom- since he is not an Indian he needs a visa to visit our country. If he has a visa which is a tourist visa, he has no right to address public meetings here. Is the police going to look into this matter? Again, let all remember that if the Karnataka anti superstition act had been made into law, it would have been applicable to Benny Hinn’s ‘cures’. In fact those opposing him on religious grounds were the ones who opposed this act, forgetting that this law was not confined to any one religion.
While categorically expressing my opposition to such nonsense as healing by prayer, let me also request that the protests be not carried to burning our own property and destroying our national assets to protest the visit of a foreigner with a dubious record. Because the last time he had come down some of the protests had been violent and had resulted in loss of property- with our own being destroyed to protest some outsiders stunt show!