Corporate sponsors contribute to Fla. faith-healing scam

Corporations don't show much respect or concern for their customers' well-being by sponsoring a Florida faith-healing crusade, the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in letters this week to several companies sponsoring the Heal Me Crusade being held May 6-8 in Plant City, about 25 miles east of Tampa.

The crusade, founded and promoted by Christian evangelicals Mike and Tina Solomon, features a series of preachers and musicians performing at a city-owned outdoor stadium that seats 6,700 people. A promotional video on the crusade's Web site for a similar event in 2009 shows absurdities like people being suddenly "healed" and standing up from their wheelchairs. Dancing with utter abandon on artificial hips? — not a problem! One woman is shown "spitting up her cancer." It also appears that the oxygen tank for one elderly woman was turned off.

According to a news story, the Solomons were inspired to launch the crusade "after the miraculous recovery of their young son, Mikel, from a brain tumor and surgery."

In letters to sponsors like UPS and Holiday Inn Express, the Foundation said the crusade is "dangerous and offensive." The event promotes miraculous healing by quoting Matthew 15:30 — "Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them." The Web page urges, “Bring the Sick, Lost, Addicted and Broken. Experience the restoration of the Holy Spirit.”

Listed sponsors include UPS, Herbalife, Red Rose Inn & Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites/Marriott, Christian Television Network and La Quinta Inns & Suites. The crusade thanks its sponsors with this message: “A special thanks to our sponsors who make this event possible for the glory of God by relieving the financial burden. On behalf of the Heal Me Crusade: Thank you so much.”

Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, called corporate sponsorship of such events alarming. "To put it bluntly — these people are deluded. People often ask our organization, 'What is the harm with religion?' The Heal Me Crusade and other similar events are one easy answer. Evangelists preaching healing by God instead of by medicine cause direct and irreparable harm to the sick. How many people must die before people wake up and put a stop to this senseless practice?"

The Foundation's letters ask recipients to contact crusade organizers and remove their names as sponsors. Healers are already being booked for next year's crusade: "Coming in 2011, Joyce Meyer Ministries."

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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