Friday, April 10, 2009


LARGER-THAN-LIFE images of a coiffure, smiling Benny Hinn, the California-based millionaire televangelist, gaze over traffic snarls and congested city intersections in Bangalore. The hoardings, which made their appearance a month ago, were part of a publicity campaign for a three-day Festival of Blessings addressed by Benny Hinn in Jakkur, Bangalore, between January 21 and 23. The real purpose of the festival was attracting people to Christianity.
Now Catholic Sonia Gandhi is head of Congress party. Every Congress leader is doing his best to fulfil his aspiration. She don't need to express her desire explicitly. Show was attended by an estimated three to four lakh persons, including Karnataka Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh and Several of his Cabinet colleagues, Union Ministers M. V. Rajashekharan and Oscar Fernandes.
The centrepiece of a Benny Hinn biggest draw, were his working of miracles that have supposedly cured thousands of people from life-threatening illnesses. Indeed, for scientists, rationalists and secular groups, the opposition to the Benny Hinn show is based on his false promises of healing.
Benny Hinn certainly have a hidden conversion agenda. The high-cost publicity blitz launched by the Benny Hinn Ministries, and the manner in which it flaunted a guest list that read like a who's who of political India - N. Dharam Singh, Governor T. N. Chaturvedi, several Chief Ministers from other States and Union Ministers, including Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, to mention a few - was picked up by communal organisations to allege government patronage to Christian organisations that are engaged in covert conversion.
Sections of the legal fraternity and leaders of the Kannada movement, such as M. Chidananda Murthy, have called for the cancellation of the event by the government and the arrest of Benny Hinn for attempted conversion.
Even the Communist Party of India demanded that Hinn's programme be cancelled on the grounds that he would dupe people with promises of miracle healing.
Direct attack was made on Hindu practices by pamphlet written by a member of the Benny Hinn Ministries by equating idolatry with harlotry. Later on when people opposed then it was taken back.
And if any one want to know kind of preparation was made for his programme than he should refer to the affidavit filed in the High Court, by S. Mariswamy, City Police Commissioner, who had said that 10,000 policemen would be deployed on those days. This figure included two companies of the Rapid Action Force, 40 platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police, 1,200 officers from outside Bangalore city limits, 40 platoons of the City Armed Reserve Police and the entire Police Force of Bangalore City. There will also be 2,000 officers and men of the traffic police to manage traffic exclusively for the event.
The entourage that has flown into the city in Benny Hinn's private multi-million dollar jet was staying at the posh Leela Hotel. The venue was the State government's Jakkur Airfield Training Ground. Seventy-two screens (24 ft by 12 ft) and two mega screens twice that size had been erected. Three lakh chairs had been arranged for the audience, and areas prepared for floor seating.
Let us also discuss after who is this Benny Hinn. Benny Hinn is a controversial figure in the West, and his critics come from within the categories of believers and rationalists. There are many who have differences with him over doctrinal interpretations - his claims of curing the sick, for example. The Trinity Foundation, a Christian watchdog group that monitors the working of televangelist ministries, is one of the many Christian organisations highly sceptical of his work and claims.
Born in Jeruselum and raised in Canada, Hinn became a preacher early in life. He practises what is called the Prosperity Gospel or the Word of Faith, which believes that faith is what propels an individual to health, wealth and other personal success. To become a follower the individual must "sow a seed of faith", or make a cash donation to the organisation. Although the Benny Hinn Ministries is not legally obliged to make public its finances, the revenues are believed to be in the region of $100 million a year.
Two notable media exposes of the Benny Hinn establishment, the first by NBC's Dateline programme in December 2002, and the other by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in November 2004, have shown Benny Hinn's claims of curing the sick and terminally ill to be false. The programmes also investigated the finances of the organisations and provided revealing information on his personal financial profligacy.
Even when all these details about Benny Hinn was known to our authorities they eagerly arranged for his show in Bangalore.
In Bangalore, an organiser from the Festival of Blessings falsely claimed that a panel of eight reputed city doctors would verify each case of an individual being cured of an illness. But as it was bound to happen this promise was soon retracted. There would be no medical verification, he said. Instead, the individual would be asked to sign an affidavit stating that he or she was free of an illness, after being miraculously healed by God through the intercession of Benny Hinn! 6
"Any religious preacher who makes use of hunger, illiteracy, the lack of medical facilities, or ignorance, as a means to influence people, is violating the fundamental principles inherent in the freedom of religion and conversion," Sanal Edamaruku of Rationalists International told Frontline. "Benny Hinn makes fake claims. People have been known to be taken from hospitals to his healing services. They have later died. Some people may survive after his `cure' for some time, but they too die later. With techniques of mass hypnosis, psychosomatic illnesses can certainly be cured by these people, but more effectively by psychiatrists". 6
The difference between a village quack and Hinn, says Edamaruku, is the latter's use of a "modern communication system and money". According to him, in a country like India, where medical and scientific illiteracy is rampant, costs of medical care for serious illnesses like cancer are high, and medical insurance coverage is inadequate, the "crime" of promising cures is doubly compounded. 6
In the absence, however, of genuine opposition to the Festival of Blessings, that targets unreason and blind faith, the promise of miracle cures had remained the big draw of the event. 6
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1 comment:

  1. Bangalore has a million cliche's and is among the fastest growing cities in the world.
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