Desperate HIV Patients Donate to Church So That the Pastor Will Destroy Their Medication — and Pray For Them Instead

Via the Washington Post comes this tale of callousness and perfidy.

NAIROBI, Kenya — 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.

“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”

Yeah. “We don’t ask for money. We just ask for money.” I’m sure you understand.

In an extra-cruel twist, the dupes of this deadly scam are recruited to bring more sick customers into the church.

Here’s how it works: When confronted with falsified test results from a clinic that’s in cahoots with the faith healers, the elated patients are eager to spread the good news, encouraging other HIV sufferers to also make donations in exchange for a pastor’s prayers. After a few days or weeks, the symptoms of the first group inevitably worsen, but by then a fresh wavelet of the newly “cured” has taken over the PR work, perpetuating the cycle.

In Kenya, nationwide, at least 2,000 patients are known to have fallen for the ruse.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.


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