While driving east on University Avenue in Champaign, Illinois, I was presented with the sight of this billboard.
I found that I was not the only person in town who noticed the billboard, and was a bit insulted by it. [I’m not offended by it, as it takes much more to actually offend me.] A blog post today at chambanamoms.com, titled The Wannabe Mom: ‘Cause I Gotta Have Faith helped to let me know that others were also touched in some way by the billboard and its message.
The billboard asks , “hey champaign-urbana: does Jesus heal today?” It then invites us visit www.doesjesushealtoday.com, where we can read the story of the pictured family who, it suggests, were healed of infertility in June 2009.
Case number one:
The web site features the stories of two couples (as text) and two individuals (as video). Let’s take a look at the story of the first couple, who were featured on the billboard.
This couple’s story begins like this:
The first year of infertility was the hardest in many ways. I could feel that something was wrong…why WOULDN’T we be pregnant? But had no evidence. Finally, one year had passed since our official time of “starting to try”, so we were able to go and see the doctor about fertility tests.
Their first year of infertility was a year’s worth of having unprotected sex without getting pregnant. That’s the guideline that the medical community uses to determine whether or not a couple is infertile. [I’m not even going to get into the idea of Evangelical Christians discussing a lack of evidence. My irony meter might explode.] After their year’s worth of trying to get pregnant, their physician thought it might be appropriate to perform some tests to determine if there were any physical barriers to the couples’ family plans.
After a few tests for each of us, we found out that we both had some problems. Specifically, one of my fallopian tubes was blocked and my husband’s “count” was low. The chances were not good that we would conceive without medical intervention.
Their chances were not good that they would be able to get pregnant without medical intervention. That said, there was still a chance. [I’m tickled by the idea that it’s okay to use the word ‘fallopian’, but not the word ‘sperm.’]
We were in the middle of our 9-week foster parent course when we discovered I was pregnant! So even with all of our “problems”, and for no reason either of us could fathom, we would be having a biological child after all.
The wife became pregnant “…for no reason either of us could fathom…”. The reason is fairly obvious, I would think. They were still having unprotected sexual intercourse. At least one sperm made the trip to a fertile egg, which happened to have been released down the fallopian tube that wasn’t blocked.
The couple’s conclusion:
We believe God healed our physical limitations and allowed us to conceive naturally!
Was the blocked fallopian tube miraculously unblocked? Were the sperm counts bumped up to a higher level? Did the couple bother to have these things rechecked? Unless you have confirmation from a medical professional that your physical limitations were, in fact, changed, you are simply deluding yourselves. You beat the odds this time. You could probably do it again if you tried enough.
My conclusion: Bullshit.
Case number two:
A second couple was also “healed of infertility;” this time in February 2009. Here is part of their story:
After trying to conceive on our own for over two and a half years, we turned to God for his guidance as to what our next step should be. We were unsure if we should continue trying, look in to adoption, or accept our lot in life as a married couple without children.
Yes, they had been trying to conceive for quite a bit longer than couple number one, without success.
Finally we felt as if God was telling us that it was okay to seek medical intervention. God had it all worked out from day one! We met with a fertility specialist and started our journey to parenthood. Several tests later, we found out that there was no medical reason for our infertility. Once we learned this, we decided to continue with the medical intervention. After only one IUI (intrauterine insemination) we were blessed with the knowledge that we were going to be parents. God taught us to trust Him, and to ask our church family for help. He also taught us to believe in the power of healing.
Yes, that’s actually what it says on the web site. I can’t make this shit up. The medical tests indicated no medical reason for infertility, and that prompted them to continue with medical intervention. Medical intervention for what? Nothing? [I’m tempted here to ask if they were just doing it wrong.] One IUI later, and she was pregnant. This taught them to trust their God? I would have thought it would teach them to trust their physician. They believe in the power of healing now. What healing? Who or what was healed? I’m just mystified by the tortuous logic some people try to use.
Case number three:
The woman who claims that Jesus healed her cancer appears in a short video clip on the site. She recounts that she was cancer-free for one year, but her physician determined through a CAT scan that cancer was present “in her bones.” There were, however, a couple more tests he wanted to run. The woman then relates a prayer/healing session with members of her church, and how she then knew that the cancer was gone.
After subsequent testing, her physician told her that the cancer was, indeed, gone. The woman is positive that the healing power of Jesus deserves the credit for this miracle. Once gain, I’m forced to reach a conclusion of bullshit.
There is a very good reason why the physician wanted to run a couple more tests. That reason is, most likely, that the first tests were not conclusive. If they had been, there would have been no reason for subsequent tests. That’s the way a lot of diagnostic testing works. If Jesus is so great at healing your cancer, then why are you seeing an oncologist in the first place?
Case number four:
The fourth case shown is that of a young man who the site claims was healed of high blood pressure and depression in August 2010. This guy rambles on about his blood pressure and the problems he’s had with it since 2006. He says that the “holy spirit” helped cure his high blood pressure. He doesn’t seem to equate the medication he received from a physician with the lowering of his blood pressure. Go figure.
I don’t think he actually mentions the word ‘depression’ during the three minute video segment. At the very end, he does mention relationship problems and other problems that the “holy spirit” helped him through.
Here’s a guess: His high blood pressure was caused, at least in part, by stress that was a part of his life because of relationship difficulties and depression. Did he receive psychiatric treatment for clinical depression? He didn’t say. Was it situational depression? He didn’t say. Did he get medication for depression, or talk therapy? He didn’t say.
If these people honestly believe that some disembodied spirit or other mysterious entity healed whatever it is they thought was wrong with them, then that’s fine. They can believe all of the delusional crap that they want. When they start trying to drag other members of the community into their delusions, however, I’m not going to keep silent.
Attempting to profit by the misfortune of others is a reprehensible act. That’s what the Vineyard Church is trying to do. They’re playing up the non-existent healing aspect of their god to try to gain more parishioners. They’re counting on the gullibility and vulnerability of those people who haven’t had good luck in finding relief for their medical problems. I think it’s pathetic, and sad, and bullshit.