Monday, October 26, 2009

Benny Hinn, Heroin, And A Long Trail Of Other Scandals

Justin Taylor has blogged about a Nightline interview with Benny Hinn. Hinn's performance in the interview is highly unconvincing. Below are some comments I posted in that thread, accompanied by some further comments on drug issues, which weren't accepted by Justin Taylor's blog for some reason. I suspect that something in the HTML coding from one of the links wasn't able to go through.

Ignorant skeptics sometimes compare Jesus Christ to Benny Hinn, on the basis of vague similarities like the fact that both men have been viewed by many people as miracle workers. I have an article here that discusses some of the many differences between the two men.

A resource on Benny Hinn that's seldom mentioned is Yves Brault's Behind The Scenes: The True Face Of The Fake Faith Healers (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Dorrance Publishing Co., 1997). Brault attended Hinn's church, and he writes about some of his family's experiences with Hinn and other individuals and ministries.

Hinn promises miracles, then tries to prevent investigation of his alleged miracles.

You can watch a devastating expose of Benny Hinn online, by CBC's The Fifth Estate, here.

Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute asked Hinn for his three best-documented miracles. When the documentation was provided, all three were found to be inauthentic.

Hinn has repeatedly been documented to have made false prophecies. He predicted that Fidel Castro would die in the 1990s, for instance.

Members of Hinn's staff have been caught in various scandals. Here's some video footage I saw years ago in another context, in which Hinn seems to be giving some sort of drug to a member of his staff. I've seen this footage from three different sources, but I've never seen any documentation that would give it further authentication. It does look as though Hinn is encouraging some sort of drug use in the video, and his staff does have a history of heroin problems. The video appears to be taken from a story by Tony Pipitone from WKMG, channel 6, in Orlando. There might be additional information that exonerates Hinn in some manner, but the video looks bad, and I've seen it used by multiple sources.

I've found little information about this video online. If you go to this page, and use the Ctrl F feature on your keyboard and search for "Pipitone", you'll see a post by somebody (illusionbuster) who raises some doubts about the negative implications of the video. I find his reasoning unconvincing, though.

I have a longer version of the video that I saw years ago, found at the end of a VHS tape titled The Signs And Wonders Movement Exposed: Ministry And Music, Vol. 1. The tape series (of which the tape in question is the first part) was put out by National Prayer Network in England and features Dave Hunt, Roger Oakland, and some other critics of modern miracle claims like Benny Hinn's. You can watch an online version here. Go to the 47-minute mark in the first video.

At the close of the tape, they run a more extensive version of the video in question. They include footage of Tony Pipitone and some other reporters introducing the story. They explain that the video in question is an "amateur" video. They say that Hinn canceled an interview scheduled with them after seeing the footage. This edition of the video also includes subtitles of what somebody in the video was saying. It's hard to tell who's doing the speaking, but it seems to be David Delgado, who smokes the pipe after Steve Brock hands it to him. According to the subtitles, Delgado (or whoever is speaking) makes the comment "I thought this was vice." He then explains that he had hidden the pipe before Benny Hinn walked by. Apparently, Hinn saw the pipe and gave it back to Brock and Delgado to smoke. In the footage that follows, Delgado is clearly under the influence of some sort of mind-altering drug. But there's no indication of how that second footage relates to the first. It was soon after that when Delgado died as a result of heroin abuse.

Perhaps what Delgado and Brock were smoking, which Hinn gave them, was something more innocent. I don't know. But the video at least raises some significant questions. If Hinn was just giving the men tobacco or something else more innocent to smoke, why did he cancel his scheduled interview with WKMG? It's possible that multiple sources using this video are misrepresenting it in order to make Hinn look bad or that multiple sources have misunderstood it. But I find that unlikely. The people behind the VHS tape mentioned above don't strike me as the sort of people who would do that. The most obvious explanation of the evidence I've seen so far is that Hinn gave his staff a mind-altering drug to smoke. Why else would the people who put the video together run footage of David Delgado under the influence of something mind-altering just after running the video involving Hinn? If there's no connection between the two clips, then it's misleading to run them together in that manner.

But even if there's a more innocent explanation for the video, it would just mean that one scandal surrounding Hinn's ministry has been taken off the list, while many others remain.


  1. I just made a change to the article as I originally posted it. I had mentioned that the VHS tape I cited was endorsed by John MacArthur. Actually, the tape carries an endorsement by MacArthur for a book, apparently one upon which the tape is based. I don't want to suggest that MacArthur endorsed the tape. He may not even have ever seen it. What he endorsed was the book.

  2. Wow. I hadn't ever heard about the heroin I just did a google search and found this. It's hard to believe Carman still appears on TBN...

    "There's a darker side to Hinn and his organization. In 1998 two members of his inner circle died of heroin overdoses. In 1999, after one of his many vows of reform, he fired several board members and hired an ex-cop named Mario C. Licciardello to do an internal investigation of his ministry. Licciardello was the brother-in-law of Carman, the popular Christian singer, so many think Hinn considered him "safe." But Licciardello did such a good job – taking hundreds of depositions and getting to the bottom of the heroin use – that Hinn then sued him. While Licciardello was still his head of security, the ministry filed a lawsuit demanding that all his files be turned over and sealed, because their public release could result in the end of the ministry. One day before Hinn was supposed to give his deposition in this case, Licciardello had a mysterious heart attack and died. The Hinn organization made an out-of-court settlement with Licciardello's widow, which included sealing the court papers."

    Taken from here:

    I guess one could postulate Licciardellow died as a judgment of God...but I'm not sure why Hinn would feel it necessary to settle with his wife afterward.

  3. Ok - I understand what you are getting at with this term, but it still seems an odd thing to say:

    "...more innocent..." ?

    It's like smoking heroine is some innocent but perhaps mostly not and smoking tobacco is kinda bad, but mostly okay. So this would be subjective morality?

    As far as smoking goes, that's not apparatus you generally use to smoke tobacco, especially if you are passing it around (!). Even in Saudi Arabia where they smoke those monstrous pipes - each has his own.

  4. There is no biblical prohibition against smoking legal, non-narcotic substances. Consider the many godly men who partook of tobacco over the ages.

  5. Jim Pemberton,

    The phrase "more innocent" can have the meaning you've criticized, but it can also have the meaning you perceived I was "getting at". I intended the latter. I wasn't suggesting subjective morality.

    I had the same impression you did about the unlikelihood that tobacco would be smoked in that manner. But I don't know much about smoking of any type, and I don't know much about differences in forms of smoking from one culture to another.

  6. What do you make of this?