Miraculous cures for cancer and AIDS, people in wheelchairs getting up and dancing. It’s business as usual for Benny Hinn, perhaps the world’s most famous, successful and controversial televangelist. Hinn is a faith-healer who almost never grants interviews — until now.
“I’ll try to explain it to you,” said Hinn in a wide-ranging interview with ABC’s “Nightline.” “The anointing, which is God’s power, comes on me. … I can actually feel it. And people start getting healed. ‘From the cancer, the pain is gone. … I was sitting on my wheelchair and I can walk now,’ such things like that.”Benny Hinn on ABC Nightline, Oct. 19, 2009
Hinn took questions about disillusioned followers and about the U.S. senator who is investigating him. The questions clearly dismayed Hinn’s handlers.
His ministry collects an estimated $100 million a year in donations from people whom Hinn has convinced that God heals through him.
“Nightline” asked Hinn directly if he isn’t taking advantage of people who are profoundly religious, and vulnerable because they’re in physical pain, for his own personal enrichment.
“I’m glad you’re asking,” Hinn said. “Let me tell you something. I would not do this for money. If people think I would do this for money, after all the misery I’ve had to go through…”
“What misery?” I asked Hinn.
“Oh dear God, what misery? You name it. You’re a human being like me, how would you like to be called all those names. Who wants that? What you’re asking is am I using the so-called lie, that healings really happen so I can make money?
“Of course not. You cannot fool all the people all the time, right? … “I will tell you this. I think that if I was fooling the people over 35 years of it now, I would be caught already fooling them.”
Hinn admits he doesn’t have medical verification of any of the healings. In fact, some of his supposed healings have turned out not to have been real.
“These are things that I cannot explain because I am not the healer,” Hinn said. “I am human like you. I make mistakes like anybody else.”
Hinn’s answer is that God heals people in their seats, and that he, Hinn, is not responsible for what people claim once they get onstage.
Hinn may be more confident than the team that surrounds him. Over the course of the “Nightline” interview with Hinn, his publicist started to interrupt, angrily.
The atmosphere got charged when talk turned to an ongoing probe of Hinn by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
He said he was “absolutely” confident that he is using the money appropriately.
“I mean look, every man of God that I know today has a nice house,” Hinn said. “And they drive cars, and they have BlackBerrys or iPhones or whatever. It’s what we need today to simply exist. … Absolutely I need a private plane. For the ministry it’s a necessity, not a luxury. … It’s a necessity for me to have my own private plane to fly so I can go and do what God called me to do around the world. If I should fly commercial I would wear out. With my schedule? It would be madness.”
What is his salary? I asked.
“I’m not gonna give you the exact amount, but it’s, uh, over a half-million.”
Hinn said he’d like to cut his salary to zero.
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