Charity, I know this one will thrill the hell out of you …
The Children’s HIV Association surveyed 19 doctors and health professionals working with babies and children in England; its members had reported hearing anecdotal evidence of HIV patients deciding to stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs because their [Pentecostal] pastors had told them to do so.
Among 10 doctors who said they had encountered the problem in the last five years, 29 of their patients had reported being put under pressure to stop taking medicine and at least 11 had done so.
As an alternative to their FDA approved medication that has been clinically proven to extend lifespan as well as quality of life for people suffering from HIV / AIDS, they were either told by their pastors to pray, or they were given small bottles of “blessed” water that would supposedly heal them.
No dice. For all of the claims of the blind seeing, the lame walking, or the terminally ill suddenly feeling happy and getting the urge to go for a walk, there’s no legitimate cases of faith healing doing anything other than putting people at risk of dying from abandoning their medication … just ask “Oliver”:
Sixteen-year-old Oliver (not his real name) said he was told by a pastor to swap his HIV medicine for a plastic bottle containing water that would heal him. Later, after his mother had experienced what he believed was a miracle cure, Oliver stopped taking his medication, and his condition quickly deteriorated.
He has since gone back on his medication and said he believed he needed to combine his drugs with his belief in faith healing.
Odd position, considering the faith healing did absolutely nothing on its own … but at least he’s taking his meds. He can convert later on … since he now has a good chance of there being enough of a “later on” to speak of.
In the interest of fairness, this is only being observed in a small percentage of the overall Pentecostal population, affecting a relatively small group of people. This is not an epidemic by any stretch of the imagination, but it does reveal the frightening degree of influence of church authority on its members, as well as the dangerous weight given to the power of faith in the face of situations that have defied even the strongest believers since the dawn of history.