Yes, the preacher is a charlatan!

In Emil Cioran's Drawn and Quartered there is a passage he writes:

The superior saints did not insist on working miracles; they acknowledged them reluctantly, as if someone had forced their hand. So strong a repugnance for such things doubtless came to them from the fear of falling into the sin of pride and of yielding to the temptation of Titanism, the desire to equal God and to steal His powers. (CIORAN, 2012)

The Pali scriptures show that while the Buddha did admit to his followers the existence of miracles and extraordinary supernatural deeds, he considered them unnecessary and even dangerous to the practitioner's development. According to him, the good miracle happened when one of his followers (or himself) was able to bring somebody to the path of cessation of suffering. All the rest—flying, walking on water, curing diseases—was empty spectacle. The great prize that the Buddha "sold" to his followers was liberation from the eternal cycle of life and death, the attainment of Nibbana. There's a famous passage found in the Digha Nikaya—or Collection of Long Discourses—where he refuses to operate bizarre supernatural effects for this very reason.

Buddha attacked by Mara

The New Testament shows Jesus as someone who performs several miracles: he cures the ill, resurrects the dead, transforms water into wine and walks on water. Even though Jesus supposedly did all of those things, there's a passage (Mark 8:11-13) in which he refuses to perform miracles when instigated by the Pharisees. Other biblical passages state that, in certain occasions, Jesus commanded his disciples not to divulge his miracles. The point he's making is clear: miracles are not a magic shows. Besides, his supposedly extraordinary deeds—including the supernatural cure of grave ills—were not the main reason he wanted people to follow him. The kingdom that Christ "sold" to his followers was not of this world. The body is only a husk and the riches of the world are more than irrelevant, they are diabolical.

Let's advance to 2020. Our country and the world today is concerned with Covid-19. In the Brazilian state of Rio Grade do Sul (RS), a pentecostal evangelical preacher decided to profit from the panic caused by the pandemic and promised to make his flock immune using the power of faith—this immunization would come after money donations to his church, of course. For decades money-hungry churches have been offering cures for diseases, from the smaller ones to the mega-churches on television. All we need to do to witness absurdities like the one I mentioned is to tune in one of the several religious programs on Brazilian television. There we find preachers selling the idea that they can cure cocaine and crack addiction in less than five minutes, by exorcising the "evil spirits of addiction". Some of these charlatans on TV even dress as nurses and medical doctors despite not having any professional training in those areas. Their only goal is to dupe people, and this isn't something done in hiding, it's on television for anyone to see.

The police is now investigating the preacher from RS for the crime of charlatanism, as if only now the line of decency and legality had been crossed. No, the line of decency and the law were broken ages ago, and many of those who should rain in on charlatans—medical professionals, who should protest against false cures, and prosecutors both at the state and federal levels—are themselves evangelicals. It's not a great sign that little or nothing is done to stop religious leaders from cheating people out of their money. How long will the selling of false cures (that cost money, which makes them fraudulent) be defended in the name of the constitutional right to freedom of religion?

By Fernando Olszewski

(This post was originally published March 3rd, 2020 @ Exilado Metafísico)

. CIORAN, Emil. Drawn and Quartered. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2012. Translated by Richard Howard.
. Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikku (Access to Insight)
. Buddhist view on miracles (Wikipedia)
. The Buddha's Attitude to Miracles (Buddha Dharma Education Association)
. Marcos 8:11-13 (
. Por que Jesus advertiu que não se divulgasse a cura realizada? (Bí
. Por que Jesus dizia às pessoas para não divulgarem os Seus milagres (Centro de Pesquisas Ellen G. White)
. 3 Miracles Jesus Didn’t Do (Faithlife Blog)
. Vício tem Cura (Igreja Universal)
. Na Record, pastor da IURD dá cocaína a viciado em “ritual de cura” (Metrópoles)
. Polícia investiga igreja que teria prometido imunizar fiéis do coronavírus em Porto Alegre (G1)
. 'Se soubesse que causaria polêmica, jamais teria falado', diz pastor que teria prometido imunizar do coronavírus no RS (G1)