Faith Healing in the Black Community

By Allen, Norm R., Jr. | Free Inquiry, Winter 1993 | Go to article overview
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Faith Healing in the Black Community

Allen, Norm R., Jr., Free Inquiry

When James Randi helped to prove that alleged faith healer Peter Popoff used secret radio transmissions to discover what ailed various members of his audience, many blacks were attending these religious gatherings. At one event, an elderly black woman threw away her walker as Popoff proclaimed that she had been healed in the name of Jesus. Popoff was eventually revealed as a flim-flam artist.

In London, large numbers of blacks attend sessions held by the alleged faith-healer Morris Cerullo.

In August, former soccer star Pele claimed he has the power to heal sick children through God. Pele said that miracles such as children recovering from cancer have occurred often in Brazil and other countries.

Many blacks say that their sick, elderly grandmothers give large amounts of money to alleged faith healers hoping to be cured of their various ailments. Even when they discover they have been duped, many believers continue to give substantial financial support to these religious leaders. But while some want to be deceived, others do not.

The average life span for blacks is 70.0 years compared to 76.4 years for whites. And the black life span is still falling. According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta in 1988, the death rate for the nation's leading cause of death--heart disease--was 3.4 times higher for blacks than whites. The study also revealed that the infant mortality rate for blacks was almost twice that of whites. Of the fifteen leading causes of death in the United States, blacks led whites in thirteen categories. Tuberculosis, a disease that was almost eradicated twenty years ago, is making a comeback among poor Americans. In 1990, TB killed blacks at a rate 3.4 times greater than that of whites. Forty percent of patients awaiting organ transplants are black. And the list goes on. As syndicated columnist Tony Brown once remarked: "We lead in categories no one wants to lead in."

There are many reasons why blacks do not live as long as whites--discrimination, poverty, inadequate medical care, lack of health insurance, poor eating habits, etc.

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