Posts Tagged ‘Miracle’

To many Christians Benny Hinn is an ‘annointed’ healer with the ability to perform miracles. To those capable of logical thinking he is a fraudster and a cheat.

Above: Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn

Many people in history have defrauded the innocent. Recently we were shocked by the extent at which Bernard Madoff defrauded so many people out of $65 billion. Benny Hinn is no different. Whilst he may not have stolen as much as Madoff he is no less deceptive as far as I am concerned and I believe the total amount stolen by Hinn is closer to that of Madoff than people think.

Many will be familiar with Benny Hinn, if you are I apologise for the lesson, but still many are not, especially in the UK. So some background: Since the 1980’s Hinn has been running ‘Miracle Crusades’, large gatherings in stadium sized venues where tens of thousands, and sometimes millions, of hungry miracle seekers gather hoping to be healed. He is a loud and vocal advocate of the ‘word of faith’ teaching which claims that God wants his followers to have material wealth and this can be achieved by giving financially to the church.

Hinn, born in Israel, started his ministry after moving to the US and quickly created a name for himself as one of the most successful televangelists in the world. He has likely ‘ministered’ to tens of millions of people in person and possibly been watched on TV by billions more.

In case you are not aware, Benny Hinn’s ‘crusades’ go something like this: they are held in stadiums where audience numbers are in the thousands; Hinn usually emerges (donned in a pure white suit) to a powerful chorus sung by a massive choir; he ‘preaches’ his version of the Bible; then he asks God to heal the sick (accompanied by powerful emotional music) and invites those who think they’ve been healed onto the stage; then he tells the audience how God has healed the people on stage before pushing them over onto the floor and claiming it is the ‘holy spirit’. During these services he asks attendees to ‘sow a seed’ into the ministry so they can continue to ‘do God’s work’. Not surprisingly many of them do.

Benny Hinn is now a fabulously wealthy man. We’re not talking just a little bit wealthy, I mean filthy rich wealthy. This had led many to accuse him and his family of profiting from the donations of the public. To those of us with any experience of the evangelical Christian movement (and I count myself amongst those) this personal profiting is no surprise. I spent many years in a church that, compared to Benny Hinn’s, is small fry and I saw for myself how the poor members of the church gave faithfully and the pastor drove a brand new Porsche. This is not something new. The scale of Benny Hinn’s luxurious life is, however, a little shocking.

To put this into perspective let me give you some numbers. This information is available to anyone willing to search for it, I haven’t cited sources simply because I’ve had to dig around in lots of places to pull all of this together and it wouldn’t be feasible, but you are free to check yourself and should I be wrong let me know! So yeah, the numbers:

  • Benny Hinn Ministries has an annual turnover  in the region of $100 million, add this up over years and the scale of this fraud starts to become apparent
  • Benny Hinn has use of a private jet purchased for an estimated $30 million which costs around $100,000 a month to run
  • Benny Hinn was given, free of charge, a 7,000 sq ft, 7 bedroom, 8 bathroom mansion overlooking the Pacific valued at over $10 million
  • Ex staff members have spoken of lavish shopping trips in designer stores like Versace and Louis Vuitton
  • Over 4 weeks in 2003 Hinn charged $6,000 worth of clothes to the ministry
  • Hinn has run up restaurant bills in the thousands whilst travelling
  • Hinn regularly books himself and his entourage into the presidential suites of hotels whilst travelling
  • On one trip to Italy recently receipts were submitted totalling $6,000 for “transportation”
  • At the same hotel in Italy he stayed in the presidential suite which the hotel lists as costing $10,000 a night.
  • Hinn hired the presidential suite of the Lanesborough Hotel in London at a cost of $3,000 per night
  • He submitted receipts totalling $6,000 for “incidentals including chauffeur services and ‘In Room Tea’ on the same trip to London
  • Hinn tipped hotel staff a total of $4,500 with the largest individual tips being for $1,000 (this appears to be common practice and has happened at other hotels)
  • Petty cash receipts show gifts exceeding $1,000 being given to Hinn’s daughter with no reasons specified
  • Hinn paid his daughter’s fiance $2,550 to babysit his daughter
  • Over a month in 2003 petty cash receipts totalling $23,000 were paid to Benny Hinn and his wife
  • A further $25,000 “to accompany Pastor Benny Hinn for anaheim crusade” is also detailed in receipts.

Much of this information came to light following a CBS program about Benny Hinn’s financial habits. He was invited to take part but couldn’t because God told him not to, apparently. These are just some of the figures that people have been able to gather on Benny Hinn’s ministry and thanks is owed to ex-staff who have ‘leaked’ them. This is all we have to go on as at every opportunity Benny Hinn resists being open about his finances.

It is pretty clear to me that he is living the high life off the back of donations. How else does he have all this money? He freely spends ministry money as if it is his own.

Not surprisingly all of this lavish piss-taking has raised some concerns with the powers that be. Senator Grassley, of the United States Senate Committee On Finance, wrote to Hinn a few years ago demanding he be honest about how he was spending ministry money. As a religious organisation Benny Hinn Ministries gets massive tax breaks, doesn’t have to publish its financial records, and therefore shouldn’t allow someone to personally profit to such a degree as Benny Hinn has.

It should be noted here that Benny Hinn is not alone in this. His lifestyle mirrors that of many other well known Christian personalities and Senator Grassley raised concerns with some of others too.

  • Bishop Eddie Long receives a salary of an estimated $1 million, lives in a 9 bathroom mansion set in 20 acres and drives a Bentley
  • Rev. Creflo Dollar owns 2 Rolls Royce’s and has a $1 million home in Atlanta and a $2.5 million New York apartment
  • Joyce Meyer Ministries allegedly spent $23,000 on a piece of furniture (she has denied this claiming it was a mistake on the receipt), $11,000 on a french clock and $19,000 on a pair of vases for the Ministry HQ.
  • Kenneth Copeland has his own plane and airport

Aside from the obvious financial wealth Benny Hinn has accumulated and the questions this raises about how charity money should be spent there is yet another issue which presses me.

Benny’s miraculous claims have never been verified. Nobody has ever examined and confirmed any of the miracles and many people who claimed to have been healed have subsequently discovered they’re still ill. To me and my atheist mind it seems pretty obvious that all this is fake, but it is an inescapable fact that many people believe Benny is the real deal. He has made a whole host of shockingly incorrect ‘prophecies’, whilst in a trance-like state supposedly connected directly to God, which add yet more weight to the proof that he is a fraud. Some of these include:

  • In 1989 Benny prophesied that in the next few years a short man would emerge as a dictator and take over the world, that he would be the anti-christ and then Jesus would return
  • 1990’s Benny predicts that America would get its first female president and she’d destroy the country
  • 1995 God will destroy America’s homosexual community with fire
  • He predicted that Fidel Castro would die in the 90’s
  • That earthquakes would destroy much of the east cost of the US in the 90’s

These are not the only stupid prophesies he’s made but I need not list any more, you get the picture.

I’m avoiding getting into Biblical theology but will go so far as to say the overwhelming majority of the Christian world reject most of Benny’s teaching. He is obsessed with demonstrating the most visually impressive ‘signs and wonders’ and it is all part of his show (he waves his arms about screaming and shouting for God’s “fire” to reign down. Benny has never performed a miracle in front of anybody: he’s never caused an arm to grow or a dead man to wake up. All of his miracles rely on human interpretation: “I couldn’t hear properly and now I can”; “my sight wasn’t very good and now it’s great”; “I had a pain, now it’s gone” etc. It’s easy to apply logic and watch this show fall apart.

I am reminded of the travelling ‘doctors’ of times gone by. Men would tour around setting up stages in towns and telling the locals they had miracle potions. They would make massive claims about their abilities and say they could cure anything! They’d place insiders in the crowd to ‘test’ the potions and having demonstrated the miracle the locals would flock to get their bottle! Benny Hinn is exactly the same.

The people in the audience go expecting a miracle. They don’t need to see a dead man get up to be convinced. They trust the power of God and they trust the testimony of others. This, coupled with the emotional atmosphere created at the meeting contributes to what can only be described as religious hysteria.

People go see Benny because they are desperate, many of them live in poor countries where healthcare is basic. They go because they need a miracle and they believe he can give it to them. When they get there he asks them to give him money. He even goes so far as to tell them God is more likely to “bless” them if they “sow” into his ministry. So they give up the little money they have in the hope they’ll be healed, and off Benny runs into the horizon a little bit wealthier, the people no healthier.

Some would say Benny Hinn was just clever, that he’s seen an opportunity and seized it, but I cannot accept this. Regardless of how gullible his followers are, and I must say they are as gullible as it gets, they are still being conned. They give their money believing that Benny is trying to do good when in reality he knows exactly what he’s doing and his motivation is greed. His conscience clearly doesn’t keep him up at night and for that he is evil.

If we allow Benny Hinn to continue for another 20 years lying and conning people then I have no doubt he will become the most successful con-artist of all time (with the exception of Jesus).

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