Pentecostal pastors in Africa trick victims of HIV into thinking prayer is a cure

No matter what religion you are or aren’t, this should make you furious.

Pentecostal pastors in Africa push prayer, not drugs, for people with HIV – The Washington Post.

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.

  9 comments for “Pentecostal pastors in Africa trick victims of HIV into thinking prayer is a cure

  1. Chris Howard
    December 5, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    My favorite story (haven’t checked the veracity) is the infamous “If you have sex with a virgin then you’ll be cured.”

    As the story goes (again, I have not verified this) women are being raped, and pre-teen girls are being perpetrated on because finding virgins is becoming more difficult.

    It seems entirely plausible, but I’m biased against religion, and superstition, so grain of salt.

  2. December 6, 2013 at 5:24 AM

    Religion is part of our cultural evolution Chris. As it has been around for such a long time it is embedded into what we are. It was certainly with us ninety thousand years ago, when some of our ancestors were burying their dead, and probably long before then. It may evolve away at some point in the future, but that’s unlikely for a long time yet.
    As I’m one of those who accept that free will is an illusion, I must be an atheist – as I suspect you are. However, although I regard religion as evolved superstition I also think ‘on balance’ that it may be more beneficial than otherwise. It has certainly destroyed a lot of people but it has made the lives of many others happier than would have been the case without it. Perhaps it is a little like wine, which can be good for us in limited quantities.

  3. Chris Howard
    December 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    I don’t doubt that it’s made people happy, and while happiness is necessary it is not sufficient. (We’ve a delusional cult of happyism in the US, and it’s causing all sorts of problems)

    My issue with any belief (secular or sectarian) is what is its level of open-mindedness? By that I mean does said belief require its adherents to critically examine their lives, their beliefs, and their behaviors or do said beliefs make a virtue out of willful ignorance in an attempt to quell inquiry about the dogma/positions of said beliefs?

    I believe that if a person knowingly attempts to choose blissful ignorance over hard won knowledge then that person has made an immoral decision.

    If we lived in a vacuum, and our actions and beliefs didn’t effect others then so be it. Everyone could do whatever they desired, but we don’t live in that world.

    An evidence-based life, that is compassionate, as well as other-regarding, is not only evolutionary advantageous but inherently moral, and ethical.

    Oh, yes. I am a weak-atheist. 🙂

  4. December 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Yes, but we don’t live in the utopian world you would prefer Chris. Perhaps sadly (although I may be wrong here) the vast majority of people will never be able to be rational. Those of us that understand logic and reason just have to accept things as they are.

  5. Chris Howard
    December 6, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    I don’t suffer the delusion of creating a utopian society, but I do believe that we can improve on things.

    I also believe that it is an ethical duty to try. The goal is not perfection, but rather progress. Progress is ongoing. There is no ending point for, say, social justice.

    There will always be ignorance, stupidity, bias, bigotry, and intolerance. This is why we need to be ever vigilant.

    Doing what is right is an ongoing process, and in order to know if one is doing right requires one to be evidence-based and critical of ones self i.e., open-minded.

    It also means that one must be held accountable (free will, or not, is irrelevant to accountability) If one is predestined to be a killer, then another is predestined to mede out justice upon said killer. Or you are still accountable for your lot in life.

    I do believe in free will, which should not be confused with control over ones circumstances, I simply wanted to illustrate that there are consequences even under a fatalistic model.

  6. Nos482
    December 6, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    Well, if the faith healings were genuine then the pastors sure wouldn’t mind a (few drops) blood transfusion to prove the power of their own prayers…
    If faith is all you need to be cured of HIV they shouldn’t have anything to fear, right?

  7. Chris Howard
    December 7, 2013 at 2:32 AM


    “…Mete out…”

  8. One Eyed Jack
    December 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Heroin in small doses has the same effect.

  9. One Eyed Jack
    December 8, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Read my mind.

Comments are closed.