João de Deus (medium)
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João Teixeira de Faria (born June 24, 1942), known also as João de Deus, is a Brazilian medium and "psychic surgeon" who has been accused of being a confidence trickster. He is based in Abadiânia, Brazil, where he runs the Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola, a "spiritual healing center".
João Teixeira de Faria was born in Cachoeira da Fumaça, Goiás (now Cachoeira de Goiás). Faria has no medical training and describes himself as a "simple farmer". He completed two years of education and spent a number of years travelling from village to village in the states of Goiás and Minas Gerais.
Faria says he was told by his spirit guides that he must expand his work to reach more people and spiritist medium Chico Xavier told him he should go to the small Goiás town of Abadiânia to fulfill his healing mission. Around 1978, when João first performed healings there, he just sat outdoors in a chair near the main road where people began to arrive seeking cures for their various illnesses and conditions. Gradually the numbers increased to thousands per day and he developed his centre, Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola. The Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola has since been visited by millions of people seeking healing. He also owns a nearby cattle ranch, which covers about 1,000 acres and is valued over 2 million reais.
Much of his income comes from selling passionflower preparations, the single herb prescribed by Faria to cure a variety of ailments. The company which bears João Teixeira Faria's initials, JTF Ltda., markets the drug and is registered in the name of his wife, Ana Keyla Teixeira, and his driver and employee Abadio da Cruz.
In 2015, Faria was diagnosed with an aggressive stomach cancer. In August, 2015 a doctor of conventional medicine, Raul Cutait, extracted a malignant tumor of 6 cm - a gastric adenocarcinoma. The surgery and follow up of 5 months of chemotherapy took place at the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital in São Paulo. Faria did not report these facts to the public originally saying he was being hospitalised for a stomach hernia.
Claims of spiritual healing powers
Faria regularly prescribes meditation and walks to a nearby waterfall as part of treatment. The Casa also sells herbs, blessed items and artefacts such as magic triangles. It was estimated by 60 Minutes Australia in 2014 that these sales earn Faria over $10 million per year.
When called for a spiritual surgery by Faria, patients are offered the choice of 'visible' or 'invisible' operations. If they select an 'invisible' operation (or are younger than 18 or older than 52) they are directed to sit in a room and meditate. Faria says that spiritual physicians can perform surgery on the actual patient via a surrogate when the actual patient is unable to make the trip.
A very small percentage of people choose a 'visible' operation where Faria operates without traditional anesthetic. Instead he says he uses "energized" mineral water and the spiritual energies present, the latter which are provided by groups of volunteers who meditate in a separate room called the 'current room'. These practices such as inserting scissors or forceps deep into a nose and scraping an eye without an anesthetic or antiseptics have been scrutinised by medical authorities and skeptical investigators such as James Randi, who has called for Faria to stop victimizing people with stunts and trickery. Joe Nickell has described these procedures as old carnival tricks.
Faria tells people not to stop taking their medicine and says not everyone he serves will be cured. Often the treatment includes capsules containing pure passion flower that he says carry special blessed spiritual energy to support the individual's healing process. Faria has undergone trials and scrutiny of his work. He has been arrested several times for practicing medicine without a licence and has been jailed once.
Live events outside Brazil
Faria has travelled to other countries to perform healing ceremonies called Live Events. Gail Thackray, Casa Medium said in her book Spiritual Journeys: Visiting John of God that the main entities that incorporate in Brazil are the same ones at Live Events, along with thousands of other entities doing healing work.
Because of the medical laws around the world, blessed water instead of the herbs is prescribed. It is available for about $3 a bottle. Everyone who receives a spiritual intervention must drink this blessed water.
ABC news report
On July 14, 2005, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) ran a news report about Faria on Primetime Live. The programme featured five people with various medical conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, Lou Gehrig's disease and an inoperable brain tumour. Each patient saw Faria and ABC claimed that in three of the cases there had been an improvement. A young female athlete who had been paraplegic was shown beginning to move her legs.
ABC's update on the five subjects, while not mentioning subject Mary Hendrickson, indicated that one subject is making either slow progress or none at all, two are worse, and one shows improvement. Subject David Ames died from complications July 16, 2008. And despite undergoing Faria's psychic surgery and being declared cured, Lisa Melman's breast cancer got progressively worse. She stated the tumor had grown and became painful. She continued to suffer and died in 2012.
Skeptic James Randi spent about an hour in New York being interviewed and taped for the report. James Randi later critiqued ABC for having cherry-picked his comments to show more credibility for the 'faith-healer' than justified. Randi went on to have given scientific explanations for all the activities observed. Randi revealed the natural explanations for activities ranging from putting forceps in the nose, random cutting of the flesh, 'scraping' of the eyeball, the subsequent absence of infection, and other activities one by one as age old parlor tricks. However, he was dismayed that none of his critical comments were shown in the final segment. This was cut down to under 20 seconds of screen time.
The Oprah Winfrey Show
2010 Show 'Leap of Faith: Meet John of God
On November 17, 2010, Susan Casey wrote in O Magazine about her trip to see Faria in Brazil and was subsequently covered on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The article was entitled "Leap of Faith: Meet John of God". The show was entitled "Do You Believe in Miracles?". In both, she discusses her need to deal with the traumatic loss of her father. After he suddenly died in 2008, Casey experienced a "tsunami of grief" that she says she couldn't escape from. She wondered if Faria could help heal her grief. She met him twice and later stated, "Three hours went by like 20 minutes, and it was blissful--it was like I was floating." Casey claims she was able to speak with her dead father. "It was very real," she says. "More of a vision than I had ever had before. ... I got this feeling like I shouldn't be sad, that everything was okay."
While Casey stated that the whole experience sounds unusual, she claimed that she is "not a woo-woo person" and that Faria helped her find healing. Casey stated that she was a neutral observer. Jeff Rediger, a psychiatrist from Harvard Medical School in Boston, was provided as a skeptic. Rediger was astonished to discover bleeding from his torso after "invisible" surgery. The show did not provide scientific or medical explanations for the procedures performed. There is no established medical or scientific reasoning for these procedures. In depth critical investigative reports followed this broadcast.
2013 Oprah's Next Chapter: 'John of God'
On March 17, 2013, Oprah's Next Chapter, Season 2, Episode 116, aired a televised show entitled 'John of God'. Oprah traveled to Brazil to meet and talk with Faria, and see his unexplained miracles firsthand. She also interviewed Magnus Kemppii, from Sweden, about his 'surgery' and five Americans who hope to be cured from their ailments.
On the December 22, 2010, episode of CNN's AC360, Sanjay Gupta interviewed two of the commentators Oprah Winfrey had sent to meet Faria. No medical or scientific evidence was provided to substantiate their remarks. Critical investigative reports followed the broadcast.
2014 60 Minutes Australia
After visiting Faria at his "Casa" in Abadiânia, Brazil, the Australian 60 Minutes television program aired a critical investigative report on 25 October 2014, examining Faria's healing treatment practices, the amount of money being made and raising questions about sexual assault allegations against him. The two-part program hosted by reporter Michael Usher was a follow-up to Liz Hayes' 1998 investigation of Faria.
In Part 1 of the follow-up, reporter Michael Usher revealed that a woman declared as cured of breast cancer by a spirit entity channeled by Faria died in 2003. A woman in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis, who in the 1998 report said she visited Faria with the expectation of walking again, didn’t feel any effect, is still in a wheelchair, and her condition deteriorated. Her trip to the Casa cost $5,000. Usher reported that none of the other people (forty Australians) who made the pilgrimage that Hayes joined for investigation improved.
Usher’s report mentioned that some of the thousands in Faria's audience hope to receive “spiritual surgery” from him. In an extended interview, Emergency medicine specialist Dr. David Rosengren personally examined and reported these practices as horrendous and barbaric, stating: “… the modern medical world could not condone this behavior in any way whatsoever”. The prospect of Faria coming to Australia had also alarmed the Australian Medical Association, reported Ean Higgins, in a 4 October 2014 article in The Australian: “I am extremely sceptical about this person [Mr Faria]; I can find it hard to see any motivation apart from personal profit for him and his organisation,” AMA vice president Stephen Parnis said. “If he undertakes any of these surgical procedures they should be reported to the health complaints commission ..."
In Part 2 of his report, Usher stated that there were two deaths in recent years at the Casa that warranted investigations, but no one was charged. He also reported that in 2010, when Faria visited Sedona, Arizona, the police department investigated him because a woman said he took her hands and placed them on his genitals; Faria also tried to pull down her skirt. The case never went to court; one of his associates encouraged the woman to drop the allegations.
The Catholic Church, through its representative Rev. Brian Lucas, issued an televised verbal warning, stating "John of God doesn't have any official affiliation with the Catholic Church". He cautioned all to be very skeptical of people seeking publicity with claims of miracles and faith healing, more so when there is a lot of money involved.
2016 Montreal Gazette
On July 22, 2016, The Montreal Gazette published a report on John of God, "Brazilian 'healer' John of God leads cancer patients by the nose", by columnist Dr Joe Schwarcz, accompanied by a video report from 'Dr Joe's' The Right Chemistry series. Schwarcz is an author and a professor at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He is the director of McGill's Office for Science & Society, which is dedicated to demystifying science for the public. The report starts by detailing Faria's life history as a medium and psychic surgeon. It then examines his practice and supposed treatments, such as the 'Up Your Nose' surgery to treat cancers. The report criticised this as quackery highlighting the resulting death of Lisa Melman. Schwarcz also criticised Faria's choices of treatment for his own health problems.
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Usher revealed that ...'Meeting John [de] Faria is free, but he often prescribes visits to these crystal beds. At $25 a session, they earn him around $1.8 million a year. Then there’s the blessed water, a dollar a bottle. There’s a gift shop and next door to that, a pharmacy. It sells one thing: blessed herbal pills, only available by a John of God prescription apparently. They’re $25 a bottle and would make Mr. de Faria about $40,000 a day. That’s more than $14 million a year.'
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