Trinidadian group urges blocking visit of Texas televangelist

Trinidad’s largest Hindu organization said Tuesday it was urging the prime minister to bar American TV evangelist Benny Hinn from visiting the country, saying he will threaten the country’s religious harmony.

Sat Maharaj, secretary-general of Sanatan Dharma Maha Saba, said Hinn — who plans to visit the diverse Caribbean nation from May 19-21 — was a fraud.

“We need to alert the population that he is a fake healer,” Maharaj said. “He will cause division in the religious community and should not be given a visa to come and preach here.”

The organization has taken out full-page ads in local papers claiming Hinn’s revivals are illegal because he makes money by faith healing — which is against the law in Trinidad.

Benny Hinn

Evangelist Benny Hinn is controversial for his frequently aberrant – and at times heretical – theology, his unorthodox practices, and his false claims. Nevertheless, large numbers of people who indentify themselves as Christians follow – and, often, appear to worship – this preacher.

Hinn’s spokesman, Ronn Torossian, declined to comment Tuesday. Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s office did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.

Benny Hinn Ministries, based in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, is estimated to raise more than $100 million a year. The televangelist travels the world hosting “Miracle Crusades” in stadiums, and claims to heal the sick while converting nonbelievers to his strain of Pentecostal Christianity.

Hinn held a series of prayer meetings in the twin-island nation in 1999.

A U.S. State Department report on international religious freedom released that year said Hinn’s conversions ignited criticism throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Following the two-day prayer meetings, Hinn appeared on his television show and said he had cast many “devils” out of Trinidad, according to the report.

Nearly a quarter of Trinidad and Tobago’s 1.3 million people are Hindu. About 6 percent are Muslim.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
AP, via, USA
May 3, 2006
Adam Raney

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 3, 2006.
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