Holy Scam or Miracle? The Faith Healing Industry (Controversy Documentary) | Real Stories

Holy Scam or Miracle? The Faith Healing Industry (Controversy Documentary) | Real Stories

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(gentle electronic music) (blues music) - Shh. In your wonderful name, set her free. No more cyst. Let her go. Out, out, out, out, out, out. - [Emily] Faith healing is a multimillion pound, international industry. Some people turn to so-called healers when doctors and medicine can no longer help. - Be healed in the name of Jesus. Set them free right now. - [Emily] I'm off to meet one of them, who's visiting the UK and claims that God can heal people of their cerebral palsy. - (speaking in tongues) Now, now, now, now. Every condition, I command pain to go. (seagulls squawking) - [Emily] John Mellor is a healing evangelist who believes God's power travels through him to heal in the name of Jesus. John has reached great fame in his home country, in the press and national news. - [Interviewer] How do you explain it? Doctors said he'd never walk, talk or feed himself,
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but after this healer laid hands upon him, he can do all three. - [Emily] He claims his abilities came to him after he prayed and fasted for 10 days and nights in the Australian Outback, that God would reach out to people and heal them, be that physically, mentally or spiritually. - Let him go right now. God, brand new knees, brand new knees. Do a number on him, Jesus. - I was born with cerebral palsy, and I've been a wheelchair user since I was nine. I'm really proud of my identity as a disabled person and all of my work is around disability and access and inclusion, but there are things that I would really like to change, and I would like to be different. My foot is really, really turned and quite painful. I've got really bad scar tissue pain, and of course, I'd love to get up and walk for a week, or a day or whatever it may be. (seagulls squawking) - There's something terribly wrong with the world. Sin came into the world when man turned against God.
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There's wars, disease, sickness, but I always find that, in the middle of the problem, God gives an answer. When doctors say you'll never walk, you'll never hear, you'll never speak, or you can never have children, and all of a sudden, the impossible takes place. That's a miracle. - [Interviewer] But do you think you could heal Emily or? - Okay, for a start, John Mellor can't heal anybody. But Jesus can. And I never guarantee anything. (tense music) - The evening before the healing session, I decided to prepare by watching some of John's online videos. There's 3,000+ miracles on his YouTube channel. I've watched this one a few times, actually. This seems to be the first one that comes up if you google John Mellor wheelchair, so of course, it was the one that took my interest the most. - In the name of Jesus, let this woman right, and set her free. (woman groaning) Free, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out, fall out.
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(audience applauding) In the name of Jesus. - Whoa. (audience cheering) (audience applauding) Gentle, John. - He's very, very entertaining, and then, from then, really, everyone gets excited, everyone gets hyped up, and that person, if you feel able to, gets up and tries to walk, if they're in a wheelchair. And I have to say, I've not seen one where they're not able to do that, yeah. - Pick your knees up, run with power. I said, give me five. (audience cheering) - [Emily] There is the possibility of giving donations, and that's quite actively encouraged on John's website, something that is quite concerning when there are people returning again and again to be healed but have seen no substantial improvement. To find out more, we spoke with Andy Lewis, a science writer and alternative medicine critic. - There are extraordinary claims being made, and as been said many times, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and as far as I'm aware, there's no evidence at all
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that there's any long-term impact from such practices. - I always tell people, don't give up, keep coming, and so, they come to the second meeting, wasn't much change. When people come and they start to see God heal people, their heart rises up and they say, you know what? If God can heal that person, maybe God can heal me. (birds chirping) (wheelchair rattling) - [Emily] The next morning, I arrived at the church, wondering what John had in store for me. - Hey. - Hi, how you doing? Good to see you. - Likewise, it's gonna be a fantastic day. - Absolutely. Thank you. - It's gonna be wonderful. It's so good to have you here. - Thank you so much. Good to be here. Hello, how are you doing? Good to see you. - You too. - It's just about to start, I'm just hearing that, well, and I think there's gonna be music. ♪ Lifting up the name of the God of all creation ♪ ♪ The only one who's worthy of our adoration ♪ ♪ Yeah ♪ ♪ Great is your name in all the earth ♪
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♪ Let all creation cry out ♪ ♪ Great is your name, great is your name ♪ - [Announcer] Now it's a great privilege and a real honor to welcome John and Julie Mellor. Let's give them a great welcome this morning. (audience applauding) (gentle music) - It's a wonderful day for miracles, and the Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Today, you will see the power of God flowing in the sick body, in the sick minds, and set people free. (blowing) In your name, Jesus, I command infirmity, go in Jesus' name. Pain, go in Jesus' name. Cancer pain, I decree healing right now for cerebral palsy, every condition, I command this to leave, in the name of Jesus, be healed. - [Emily] In front of an audience of 500 people, John attempted to perform so-called miracles for those who had traveled far and wide
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with a variation of conditions. - Sjögren's disease, pain, arthritis off these hips, off this body now. And heal her emotions, too, God. - I think a true miracle is when something happens that transcends our sense of physical reality, really, that has no rational explanation. - Jesus, I declare a miracle. Free. - Miracles demand close scrutiny. (audience applauding) - Come on. There's power in the name of Jesus. (breathing heavily) How you feeling, mate? - Amazing. (audience laughing) - Wow. - [Emily] John's showmanship was electric, and it almost felt like the power of Jesus had entered the whole church. - Timber. (audience applauding) Right now. (speaking in tongues) What's that mean to you, mate? - It feels like I'm on coke. It's crazy. (audience laughing) - Well, things don't get better with coke. (blowing) But there's actually, there's a lady here, man, in your stomach, there's like this bloating
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and tender, just come out here. - I'm reminded of mind readers, if you like. - Man, you get migraines, and right now, you've got a real terrible, terrible headache. - They're saying things that almost certainly will resonate with some people in the audience. - It's just throbbing, where are you? Is that you? - And when someone comes forward, it looks like a miracle. - Just come out here. - There's a set of rules and expectations about what the crowd's expecting from him, almost like a pantomime, really. - Okay, bend down, bend down. How's that? - Amazing. - So how long has it been since you could do that? - He'll emphasize the hits he gets, and deemphasize the misses, as if they didn't really happen. - Bend down, touch your toes. How's that? - It's actually not feeling- - No pain? - No, no, it's amazing. (audience applauding) - If your expectations are that you're going to feel better in a certain situation, and there's a lot of theater in such an environment, and that theater adds to the sense of occasion, then people do feel better in the moment. - Pain on my left is gone. - Give God a hand, everybody. (audience applauding) - [Andy] An hour later, the next day, it's quite questionable that they're gonna still sustain that.
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- [Emily] Soon enough, my time had come to be healed. - God bless you, Emily. Just could we reach out for Emily? Come on, there's power in that name, power in that wonderful name of Jesus. God, begin to straighten this leg right now. - [Julie] Straighten. - Touch her ligaments, tendons. - [Julie] Foot to straighten. - Free, free, free, free, free. (whooshing) Jesus, touch Emmy right now. God, I command right now, come against cerebral palsy, touch her brain right now. I command pain to go right now. Set her free in the name of Jesus. God, touch her right now. - This is what- - Jesus, more. - [Julie] Straighten. - All pain to go, strengthen, strengthen. - [Julie] Get off now in Jesus' name. Pain gone. - Strengthen. - [Julie] Strengthen that foot. - Release. - Life. - [Julie] More strength, Lord. - Life- - Muscles and legs straighten. - Begin to straighten this body right now. - Take all the pain away. - No more pain. - Strengthen those legs. - [Man] Thank you, Jesus. - Can you feel any pain or discomfort?
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- I'm starting to feel a little bit tired because I'm taking lots of weight on my arms. - Can you feel pain, though? - Not in my legs, 'cause these guys are taking it off of me. - Would you say, would it be normally painful to do this? - Yes. - But you don't feel it now? - Not at the moment, no. - Give the Lord a hand. - [Julie] Can you take more weight on your feet? (audience applauding) - Thank you, Jesus. - She might need to sit down. - Sit her down, sit her down. Now this is very important. We see some people in wheelchairs walk instantly, bang. Other times, it's a process. So how are you feeling now? - I don't think there's any change yet, but I'm willing to keep going. - But you're without pain? - Yes. - In your legs? - Normally, Emily, how bad would the pain be like that before? - It takes time for the pain to kind of get into my legs, so it's almost that waiting for the pain to develop with just standing for too long. - Give Emily a hand. What a good sport. (audience applauding) God bless you, Emily. - Thanks. - [John] And maybe, guys, clear the deck, fellas.
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Clear the deck. - [Emily] To be honest, I wasn't surprised that it hadn't worked, but it was interesting to see that John made such a celebration of the fact that the pain that wasn't there to begin with had apparently gone away. - Heal her kidneys, in Jesus' name. - I don't personally believe that people are crooks and charlatans. I think they believe in what they do. They might get carried away with their own beliefs and experience, what's happening around them, and if they're doing anything wrong, I think it's probably, perhaps, they're not be circumspect enough about their own capabilities. - Jesus. (blowing) - [Interviewer] What do you say to people that say, healing and what you do is fake? - What I ask them to do is talk to people who've been healed. Really simple. Just talk to them. When I pray, the power of God is so strong, people will feel strange sensations. Sometimes, they feel heat, they feel tingling, they feel cold sensations. Some people feel nothing. I don't fully understand all of it. (blowing) How you feel in your back?
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It's how it is sometimes, it's spontaneous, and I just go (blowing), it's crazy. Give her more, Jesus. There's something else getting involved here, and it's God, it's Jesus. (blowing) Give her more, Jesus. There's some people who make their whole livelihood out of deceiving people and charge large amounts of money, and they have big promises, and what we offer is free. No one has to pay anything. No one has to give a cent, and I'll pray for them as long as they want me to pray for them. (light whimsical music) - [Emily] I spoke to other people about their healing experiences. - Usually I can't stand, but I've walked in, and I've stood at the back, and I ain't sat down. - I felt God touching me, and I felt like heat over my body. - John prayed for me, and he broke the power of witchcraft over my life.
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- It's the last hope, so we believe that there will be a miracle here in England. - [Emily] How many meetings have you been to? - With John, probably about a dozen, and every time, I've seen so many amazing things. Do I believe every single one? I'm not sure I do, but I've seen and I've spoken to people who've been healed of all sorts of things. - Wow. - Quite amazing. - And what's happened to you specifically? Anything? Have you seen any change? - Not at this point, but I'm still fully believing I'm gonna be well. I will not die and live and declare the works of the Lord. Amen. (gentle music) - Andy's got motor neurone disease, and he's absolutely desperate to have more time with his wife and his children, absolutely desperate, and this visiting John Mellor a dozen times is his way of trying to kind of can that desperation, by taking action and by doing something about it, but it's when that faith, the healing,
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and the physicality of stuff come into play, that I'm still really not sure where I'm at with it, and whether or not it's complete and utter bullshit, to be perfectly honest with you. I feel like I've got to say that very quietly, 'cause we're still here. (laughs) After the session, I couldn't stop thinking about how much of a performance it all was. Pain is very subjective, isn't it? So for him to then put you under and say, "Do you feel better?" And then you say, yes, all my pain's gone, I do think that there's a little bit of a game and a little bit of a performance that people play if they're really that desperate, and they really wanna be healed. Tomorrow is my opportunity to sit down with John, just the two of us and to basically have it out. I want him to persuade me, and I want him to prove me wrong. Whether he does or not is another question entirely. (tense music) - [Man] Roll cameras. (tense music) - How are you? - Hey! It's great to see you again. - Great to see you again. - Great. - Have a seat, please. - Yeah, thank you very much. - Is there anything that I'm doing wrong?
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- No. In fact, what I always tell people, if you come again, I keep praying. - It is possible to not want to be healed enough, and therefore, it doesn't happen? - Yes, true. - That can happen? - That's true, because I've met people who've said that to me. - I met a guy called Andy, who has motor neurone disease, so he's kind of followed you all over the place. He said to me that as of yet, nothing's happened. - Well, for a start, I can't get my head around it. I wish I saw every single person healed. I wish I could see everything perfect, but I don't. - Is there a moment where you think it's almost more appropriate to say to somebody like Andy, go home, spend time with your wife and your kids, spend those final months that you have, because you've been to 12 meetings and it's not happening? - I don't know. To me, it's up to the person. And the thing is, nobody knows. I mean, I don't know, but if I can encourage them,
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because some people don't have any hope, and to me, it's worth for the ones who did get touched, and it's something they've gotta make up. - At the beginning of the meeting yesterday, and I guess you do this at most of your meetings, you kind of were saying, oh, there's somebody here that's got a horrendous headache, there's somebody here that's got a problem with their womb, there's somebody here that has got really, really bad stomach pain and you know, I've been told to help them. - And many times, I feel like I'm a third person. It's like, I don't try and process things, I just pray, and things happen. - Obviously, obviously I've read your material, and I've looked a lot on your YouTube channel and your Facebook pages and things like that, and I cannot find one negative comment, not one. So how much do you modify- - I don't modify. - The response you get? - Nothing. Oh, well, occasionally, silly thing in your Facebook, but see, when stuff, people put stuff on a blog,
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you can't control that. It goes, you know, you can't control a lot of stuff- - You can delete people that comment on your YouTube videos. You can delete their comments. - Oh, you can, you can, you can, you can. We actually don't get that many comments on our YouTube. You know, some people judge me 'cause they haven't, you offer the money, you're trying to rip people off, you're taking old ladies pension, you know, people got strange ideas. I never set out to do this. I never planned this. It just happened. It just, all of a sudden, I found myself in newspapers doing stories, reporters coming, and TV cameras coming, and I wasn't too sure how to handle the media. - I really like you. - I like you too. - But I can equally understand how people would look at this situation and will say, "Man, he's preying on some pretty vulnerable people there "and there's people who are getting disability allowance "and they're spending all their money to go and see him "and they're not seeing any results." Even watching those YouTube videos, all 5,000 of them, it still doesn't give a viewer
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any hard evidence. It's very, very difficult to actually say, this guy's totally legit. - I think what you're saying is fair enough, because really, we shouldn't always just look at everything, and take it on face value all the time. That's why I tell people, come and have a look. See for yourself, make up your mind, and that's how it is. You know, I've been on the other side, and I can fully understand where people are coming from. - And how did you feel about it? - I thought it was a ripoff. - One thing that I guess put me off before I met you was the terminology that you use, words like crippled and suffers from- - Yeah, I realize that. - And wheelchair bound. I almost felt like I couldn't be proud of my disabled identity and come and see you. - And I wanna apologize for that, because I'm still learning, and you're the first person who's told me that, and so I will change that. - Thank you. - I really will.
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- Thank you. - But at the same time, in the media, BBC, main media, as Christians, we cop bigotry, et cetera, too. We get tagged as con men, all of that. We have to wear these terms, too. - Julie, it's okay. - [Julie] How do you say someone in a wheelchair was healed? - Wheelchair user. - Wheelchair user. - [Julie] Just a lot of the- - Julie. - John's getting tired. No, no, I just wanted to make one point. I would go to sleep just thinking about the people that went away still suffering, what's gonna happen to them? But because we do this every weekend, you think I can't wear every person I don't see healed on the spot. It would be the same thing with doctors. You can't emotionally involve yourself. All you can do is pray as best you can, and hope that they will be healed. (tense music) - [Emily] It's been a week since the healing session, and a time for reflection. I'm off to meet Andy, to find out more about his situation, and why he turned to John. - I guess the background, married to Jen, three boys. About three years ago, there were some issues
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with my movement, and I went, ultimately, to the neurologist, and then he diagnosed me with motor neurone disease. I said, how long do you have? Because there is no cure at this point, and he said 80% of the people have less than 2 years. - Why John? - You know, was it real was my question, was it underpinned by the Bible? Was it something weird? And you know, I think it's easy to say, he's a charlatan, or he's this or that, but I think they do it because of genuine reasons, and I've seen with my own eyes the impact it can have. - Has anything changed since then? - I don't know is my honest answer. I feel, after that meeting, more positive, but I'm not running around. You know, a lot of people look at life and think about the end, and think about a hopeless end, and the way I'm looking at it is I've got an endless hope.
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You think you're indestructible, and you think you've got a clear path through life, and then, it is radically interrupted. - I think the hardest thing for me is thinking if the healing doesn't come, and then what? And that's gonna be tough, but, life without my best friend. It'd be rubbish, really. - If. - If the healing doesn't come. But we, yeah. (kisses) - A drink of water. I will not die just yet. (somber music) - The doctors are saying, no, sorry, we can't help you. There's no cure yet. You're doing really, really well, you've lasted longer than we thought you would, go home and enjoy your time. What are his other options? He has none, he has no other option. (somber music) (waves crashing) And I guess that's really hard because I keep hearing of all of these amazing miracles that are happening and all these people
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with these horrendous illnesses that are getting healed, and all we saw was people with sprained ankles and headaches and frozen shoulders feeling better. (somber music) - [John] I don't even go there in my thoughts. I don't even think about it. I can't afford to. I've got one track. That's to encourage people and love them. I never know if something's gonna happen. I don't know. I don't know. (waves crashing)

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