Violent ‘evangelist’ Todd Bentley refused entry to UK
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday August 22, 2012
An evangelist preacher who has claimed he can cure people of their illnesses by hitting and kicking them has been banned from entering the UK by the Home Office.
Todd Bentley, a controversial revivalist healer based in the United States, had been due to hold a series of gatherings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the next few weeks. But the Home Office said Bentley, a Canadian citizen, was subject to an exclusion order and would not be permitted entry to the country.
“We can confirm that Mr Bentley has been excluded from the UK. The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they are not conducive to the public good. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who might seek to undermine our society,” the Home Office said.
Bentley, a 36-year-old former drug addict who at the age of 13 sexually assaulted a minor, reacted angrily to the decision, writing on his church’s Facebook page: “What about all the other celebrities, musicians and others with a more colorful past than me that are permitted into the UK for shows … Is this really about my past and fear of potential violence or Freedom of Religion and attack on Faith, God & Healing?”
Bentley has reportedly distanced himself from some of his more extreme claims, insisting on Twitter that violence was “the furthest thing from who we are and how we minister”.
The exclusion order against the fiery preacher follows British Labour MP Malcolm Wicks’ call for May to prevent Bentley — who launched his Fresh Fire ministry in Abbotsford, B.C., in the late 1990s — from leading a three-day soul-saving event scheduled to begin Aug. 30 in the London-area borough of Croydon.
Other stops on Bentley’s British tour were to include Liverpool, Portadown in Northern Ireland and Cwmbran in Wales.
“This man is a very unsavoury character,” Wicks had said of Bentley in his Aug. 1 letter to May, reported last week by Postmedia News. “I urge you to do all in your power to ban this man from the U.K. His visit can do nothing but harm and I would be grateful for any measures you can take.”
In 2008 Bentley shot to fame as he led the so-called ‘Lakeland Outpouring’ — a series of ‘revival’ meetings in Lakeland, Florida.
Saying that he was in touch with angels, Bentley claimed miraculous healings were taking place, and that some people had been raised from the dead.
After an ABC Nightline report revealed that not a single claim of Bentley’s healing powers could be independently verified, Bentley took some time off to “refresh and relax.”
He did not return to the ‘revival.’ Instead, Bentley resigned from his ministry’s board after reports that he was romantically involved with the nanny of his children, and that he had separated from his wife.
There were also reports of alcohol abuse during the duration of the revival meetings.
Just a few weeks earlier, a selection of people who refer to each other as ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ — people who claim to receive lots of inside information in ‘revelations’ from God — commissioned Bentley as an ‘evangelist.’
The leaders reportedly referred to Bentley’s commissioning as “one of the greatest moments in revival history.” [The publishers of Religion News Blog suggest these 'prophets' and 'apostles' are involved in a type of 'Christian role-playing game.']
The Presbyterian Church has welcomed a Home Office decision to ban a controversial revivalist healer — who claims he can cure people of illness by attacking them — from preaching in the UK.
Todd Bentley, a US-based healer, had been due to hold an event in Portadown next month as part of a UK tour. He had been invited to preach at The Christian Centre on Tandragee Road in the Co Armagh town.
Local clergy had raised concerns about his unorthodox methods — which include choking people, kicking them in the face and pushing them over. [...]
A spokesman for the Presbyterian Church welcomed the Home Office decision to exclude the controversial preacher.
“The violent activities reported as part of Mr Bentley’s faith healing technique have no part whatsoever in our understanding of a loving, caring and compassionate ministry that is sought often by weak, frail and distressed people,” a Presbyterian spokesman said.
“The Home Office has a responsibilty to protect vulnerable people and in the light of what we know, is wise to respond in the way it has.”
Mr Bentley criticised the decision online, calling on his followers to pray.
He said: “I am deeply saddened by the recent decision of the UK government regarding my entry into the country.
“At this point, we are thankful to God for the support from our friends in the UK who truly love Jesus and embrace the supernatural, faith and healing.
“We know and believe that the UK has a great destiny, and we are praying for the leaders and those in government. Please continue to stand with us in prayer regarding this decision and our return to the UK.”
He also pointed out the number of times he has previously travelled to the UK ahead of his planned tour of Croydon, south London, Portadown in County Armagh, Liverpool and Cwmbran in South Wales.
The publishers of Apologetics Index, the parent site of Religion News Blog, consider Todd Bentley to be a false prophet and a false teacher. They say Bentley works with and/or otherwise promotes false prophets such as Bob Jones and Rick Joyner.
His Lakeland Outpouring was heartily endorsed by John Arnott, pastor of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.
The latter is where the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ began. The movement is characterized by a plethora of false teachings and unbiblical practices — encouraged and promoted by alleged ‘words,’ ‘prophecies’ and ‘visions’ from God, and accompanied by anything from outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter, people acting as if they were drunk, and claims of having received gold dust or other ‘supernatural signs’ from God.
Bentley’s teachings and practices place his ministry squarely among the controversial renewal and revival movements.
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