However, it wasn't that which left the bad taste in my mouth (see what I did there?), but the fact that the management of our local shopping centre had let a bunch of faith healers operate inside the premises.
Now, I've had run-ins with roving gangs of faith healers before, but their place is outside in the pissing rain, not in the warmth of the indoor shopping centre, where their little pop-up stall, banners and camping chairs patrolled by middle-aged chaps in anoraks on the look-out for potential marks is given some sort of respectability.
But then, I doubt whether I would have been Chosen. The middle-aged chaps in anoraks - from my own observations - choose their marks carefully. Our town appears to be in the midst of a rash of foot and knee injuries, and everywhere you look there's some poor sap hopping around on crutches. At least three of these hopped past the Faith Healing stand while I watched, and they were completely ignored. I suspect people with real physical injuries are too difficult for the hands-on-pray-to-Jesus approach to medicine, and they're left well alone.
In fact, I reckon anybody who looks like they might know better and could cause a bit of trouble are carefully filtered out. Jesus didn't want to know me, genuine limp or not. No, they're after the easily impressed and easily converted for their mind games. It's all about adrenaline and endorphines and the planting of belief so that the mark leaves the stand, clutching a few leaflets, buzzing enough from the experience to think their ache in the side is cured.
Which, of course, it isn't.
Yes, there are many, many people out there using the concept of faith healing to con vulnerable people out of money in return for the belief that their cancer has been cured. And that's evil. But on the other side of the same coin are people who practice faith healing because they firmy believe in its god-sent powers. Misguided? Yes. Evil? Probably not, and depends on your perspective, just a different class of wrongness. Parents who let their children die because a pastor says that God will heal them, there is evil afoot, but the parents may be victims themselves of a collective con that all parties believe in.
|Either dangerous nonsense or the Nobel Prize for Medicine. (Hint: Dangerous nonsense)|
But that's a world removed from street-healing, types, right? No. If they claim they can cure cancer, MS, despression (just a few highlights from the now banned leaflet above), then they are dangerous in giving false hope.
Like horoscopes, reiki, remote reiki, homeopathy, crystal healing and something I just made up involving the psychic power of dogs, it doesn't work, yet there are probably millions of people who swear otherwise. Belief in these things rejects the power of expertise, in a world where the unproven is given just as much weight as evidence-based science because it has enough people believing it to be true.
But belief in fath healing, homeopathy etc etc is just the start of a dangerous road where vaccines are rejected and life-saving medicine is ignored. Yes, given enough time, the problem will cure itself, but I'm not one to put up with the colateral damage, and I'd never wish harm on any person no matter what they believe. And yes (as I've since be reminded), there are many Christian doctors guided by faith. Which is good, because God doesn't like leaving things to amateurs armed only with garden furniture.
If you want to worship anti-science, that's fine by me. But as you stand under your gazebo in a town centre pulling in the vulnerable for a bit of hands-on, remember that your anti-science kills.
A rule of thumb:
- Hospital, loads of certificates on office wall = GOOD
- Gazebo and garden chairs in a shopping centre = BAD
You can read a far better demolition of street faith healing types by Hayley Stevens HERE
|PRO-TIP: Gazebos in town centres always mean idiocy is afoot. Duck into a shop before they make eye contact|