LAREDO, Texas - The whole ordeal was so surreal it was psychedelic and otherworldly. Pastor Benny Hinn's Everything's Bigger in Texas maxi-ministry tour knocked me off my crutches while it catapulted others out of their wheelchairs and off their life-support systems.
Pastor Benny Hinn recently vowed to cure 40,000 overall, including but not just limited to: ailing cripples, AIDS and Ebola sufferers, a few longhorns afflicted with Mad Cow disease, and even an African Gray parrot that plucked out all its feathers. This crazy bird, named Ayomide, suffered neglect and consequently, an insidiously horrid cage insanity.
Rev. Hinn's miracle working occurred during his summer-long fasting and healing extravaganza in Laredo, Texas. The holy rolling began on June. 1, 2013, and ended in late September (it went a few months longer than originally planned).
Welcome to the big business world of praising God. Rev. Benny has taken the golden calf of televangelism right to the bank. With a net worth estimated at more than $42 million, his main claim: the "Miracle Crusades" which are held in large stadiums in major cities.
Highlights from these "Miracle Crusades" are later broadcast worldwide on his program, This is Your Day. The faithful send him donations by the semi-truckload. Benny Hinn is not an evangelist. He's a corporation.
Just like some economists say, if you want to make a lot of money write a bestseller or be the leading actor in a blockbuster; but if you want to make an absolute killing, start your own religion. And it's all tax free with little government intervention. Constitutional rights pertaining to Freedom of Religion create even more fervor than gun rights and Freedom of Speech. It's part of God's own intestines.
Anyhow, I was one of the lucky 167,000 to secure a ticket at Everything's Bigger In Texas for a mere $3,500. Only 40,000 stuck around, though, since most couldn't wait in line for an entire season to be touched by Rev. Hinny.
The event was held outside, on the vast airstrip of the Laredo Public Airport. A small portion of the proceeds were to aid the starving peoples in Hollywood, Calif., and in Las Vegas, Nev. What's best, each and every one of the 40,000 afflicted, including the crippled, blind, and deaf - along with a plethora of very fortunate cattle and exotic birds - were guaranteed to be touched by Rev. Hinny and consequently, would be healed of all their afflictions.
It was a long wait. Since I have two artificial knees due to football injuries and ten years of tournament karate, I wanted Rev. Hinny to somehow get me some real knees. Bone, cartilage and flesh rather than steel, plastic, nuts, bolts, and screws.
While in line, I had the opportunity to talk to a girl cursed with an unwanted teenage pregnancy (she wanted Rev. Hinn to launch her fetus into orbit), a man who lost all his teeth in a rock-eating contest in Texarkana (he wanted Rev. Hinny to snap his index and middle fingers together, to help him grow new teeth), and a man with a terminal lung disease who requested Rev. Hinn to change the natural order of things so chain-smoking a carton of unfiltered Pall Malls every couple of days would actually lead to a benevolent healing of his two respiratory sacks.
"I'm born to rock, I'm born to roll, life is one big partying atoll," that ugly crazed parrot, Ayomide, kept screeching. After months of this stupid cacophonous gibberish, it was really getting on my nerves.
After barely being able to move after standing for two and a half straight months, I finally got to Rev. Hinn. He put his hands on my head and yelled, "Devils, leave this man!" A bolt of electricity that felt like lightning hit me with such force that I went temporarily blind. The intensity of Brother Benny's healing might made me fly off the stage. I landed in the outstretched arms of a widow who had lost her house, pet canary and small rat terrier during a stampede of prairie dogs in a secluded stretch of desolate brush land near Laredo.
That wonderful, little, cadaver-like, antediluvian lady, I discovered through our idle chit-chat, was named Myrtle Patchatoolie and her age was a walloping 98 years young. Surprisingly, the only thing Myrtle suffered from was high blood pressure. She wanted Rev. Benny to readjust her body so she didn't have to take high blood pressure medicine - she complained it made her tired and weak.
In addition to his God-given anointed powers of healing the sick, including the terminally ill, Hinn also claims he has the power of raising the dead. In 1999, he appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and claimed God had given him a vision predicting the resurrection of thousands of dead people if these cadavers somehow, someway, watched TBN. Consequently, Hinn seemed to allude to the weirdly macabre notion that thousands of people worldwide should somehow place their dead relatives' hands on television screens. Yes, Rev. Hinny would raise their loved ones from the dead! It was even suggested that this evangelical and religious network be used as "an extension of Heaven to Earth." Although this sounds like satire of The Onion variety, it's not. Rev. Benny's necromancy is very real.
In April 2001, a documentary called "A Question of Miracles" aired on Rev. Benny. In this expose', director Antony Thomas told CNN's Kyra Phillips that not one case of actual healing has ever been substantiated which Hinn is said to have taken part in," Thomas told the The New York Times that "If I had seen miracles, I would have been happy to trumpet it - but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than most committed atheists."
A gauche and ultra-ostentatious display of Hinn's flamboyant spending is his late-2006 request of his devoted for donations to purchase a Gulfstream G4SP jet, valued at more than $36 million. And his credibility has been tarnished by his false claims that the world would end in 1992 and 1999, another prophesy where he envisioned the universal destruction of homosexuals, along with other zany predictions - including that Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro's would die in the 1990s.
Joshua Hinn, Benny's son, along with two other men, brutally beat a deaf and dumb man at one of Benny's evangelical crusades in Brazil on February 18, 2013. According to reports, the unfortunate victim walked across the stage to get a blessing from the "great healer" and was warned not to proceed, but since he couldn't hear, the man kept walking toward Rev. Hinn. So Joshua Hinn and two bodyguards bludgeoned the poor sot.
In 2005, Ministry Watch made the statement that Benny Hinn Ministries is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and made a Donor Alert against it.
To be honest, taking part in Everything's Bigger in Texas might have been to no avail. Fall's chill's upon me and I'm getting arthritis in my knees again. Somehow, I think there's still metal, plastic, screws, and bolts in there. I hope ole' Myrtle didn't throw away her high blood pressure medication. I'm beginning to have my doubts about Rev. Hinny.
But maybe I'm being too cynical. Benny Hinn claims to have cured AIDS in three patients, and he also says he's cured another person (who was onstage with him) of terminal brain cancer, and he also had a woman so convinced he cured her of heart disease that she threw away her heart medicine. And there are certainly throngs of other miracles in the hopper.
. . . Can I get an "Amen" brothers and sisters?