No matter what religion you are or aren’t, this should make you furious.
At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.
The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.
But the controversial ceremonies are raising red flags as believers’ conditions worsen, and a debate has opened over whether science or religion should take the lead in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
In Uganda, Gabriel Amori, coordinator of that country’s INERELA+ chapter, said Pentecostal church pastors often tell people that a lack of faith is the reason the prayer healing isn’t working.
SubSaharan Africa has been devastated by AIDS. Denial of the problem was a core issue. Then there was high risk behavior, lack of proper education, denialism and misinformation by officials, and suspicion of medical professionals. Now, this.
Those who pay for the prayer cure died soon after. People living with HIV are desperate. They fear the stigma of the disease and family rejection which makes the prayer cure enticing. Victims are declared “cured” but are not. As their condition worsens, they go back to obtain medicine. But it’s too late. The pastors who blame the victims when prayer healing doesn’t work should be in jail for murder.