Pentecostal preachers in Africa are responsible from some truly vile things, including the witch hunts in Nigeria and Uganda that Leo Igwe bravely battles against. Here’s another horrifying example: They’re holding “healing services” for people who are infected with HIV and taking their anti-retroviral drugs away from them.
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.”
But the controversial ceremonies are raising red flags as believers’ conditions worsen, and a debate has opened over whether science or religion should take the lead in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
That this is even a question is appalling and speaks to the extraordinary damage that religious fundamentalism can do.