Snake Oil Religion :: by Vernon Gray

For those of you who may not know what Snake oil is, a brief history of the subject follows. Snake oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself or herself a fraud, quack, charlatan, and the like.The “Snake Oil Salesman” conjures up images of seedy profiteers trying to exploit an unsuspecting public by selling it fake cures.

The 1800s saw thousands of Chinese workers arriving in the United States as labourers to work on the Transcontinental Railroad. According to historian Richard White’s book Railroaded, about 180,000 Chinese immigrated to the United States between 1849 and 1882. The vast majority of the workers came from peasant families in south-eastern China and were signed to contracts that ran up to five years for relatively low wages (compared with their white counterparts.)

Among the items the Chinese railroad workers brought with them to the States were various traditional medicines. One in particular was made from the oil of the Chinese water snake, which, as it turns out is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation. Snake oil in its original form really was effective, especially when used to treat arthritis and bursitis. The workers would rub the oil, used for centuries in China, on their joints after a long hard day at work. The story goes that the Chinese workers began sharing the oil with some American counterparts, who marvelled at the effects of snake oil.

The use of “Snake Oil” as a derogatory phrase can be traced back to the latter half of the 19th when, as word of the healing powers of Chinese snake oil grew, many Americans wondered how they could make their own snake oil in the United States. Anyone who could do so was bound to make a quick and easy profit.

Because there were no Chinese water snakes handy in the American West, many “healers” began using rattlesnakes to make their own versions of snake oil. This set the stage for entrepreneur Clark Stanley, aka The Rattlesnake King. Stanley, a former cowboy claimed he had learned about the healing power of rattlesnake oil from Hopi medicine men. He never publicly mentioned Chinese snake oil at all.

Stanley created a huge stir at the 1893 World’s Exposition in Chicago when he took a live snake and sliced it open before a crowd of onlookers. He then plunged the snake into boiling water. When the fat from the snake rose to the top, he skimmed it off and used it on the spot to create “Stanley’s Snake Oil,” a liniment that was immediately snapped up by the throng that had gathered to watch the spectacle. Clark Stanley was a fraudulent huckster who had found a way to make money from unsuspecting sheeple.

And so the metaphor that is applied to the fake “healings” of snake oil can be applied to the many fake healers and healings amongst Christians today.

The King Cobra:

Christendom is slithering with fake charlatans who claim healing power from God.Chief among the snake oil purveyors of false healings today has got to be Benny Hinn.

In all the many thousands of cases where he is supposedly to have healed people who have attended his meetings, not a single solid medically proved healing is available from Benny Hinn Ministries.

Hinn has been investigated by the mainstream media and found wanting. His vulgar lifestyle does not help his “holy” cause.  Benny Hinn has also been under the scrutiny of Christian groups and again found to be unhelpful and obstructive. Hinn has become the modern stereotype of the faith healers, even providing at least partial inspiration for Steve Martin’s character in the movie Leap of Faith.

Hinn claims that thousands have been healed in his crusades; this without much in the way of proof. Benny Hinn lied on television when he declared that a man was raised from the dead at one of his crusades. It turns out that his story was at best embellished and at worst a blatant lie.

Does Benny Hinn have to prove that a healing has taken place at one of his crusades?

No, but when you are advertising lies and deceit to get people to attend your crusades, would it not be the honourable thing to at least give some professional proof that healings do in fact take place at your crusades? Especially since the thousands who attend will be milked for whatever money they have to support “God’s work?”

Let’s define what a miracle is:

A miracle is a supernatural occurrence on the natural plane. Someone getting healed of an illness through a natural process is healed of that illness naturally. If that illness disappears instantly and permanently, one could assume that it is a miracle that took place. A miracle is not simply an extraordinary event but one that would not have occurred without special divine supernatural intervention.

James Randi, a magician, in his book, Faith Healers, documents many of the tactics used to deceive the gullible. Some are as simple as placing staff members in the audience who pretend to be healed. W.V. Grant would pull the heel of one shoe out slightly to make it appear that he was lengthening a leg. Peter Popoff received his “words of knowledge” through a transistor in his ear through which his wife, via radio transmission, instructed him as she read from cards collected by staffers.

Several faith healers have rented wheelchairs to use as props. Some have even got accomplices to walked into the crusade to sit in one of these chairs so they could be taken up to the front to get a better view. These same people were then pulled out of their wheelchairs to the amazement of the crowds.

The list of tricks to deceive the unwary and undiscerning are almost endless. There are  Christians who attend these circuses and feel as if they have a new hope in God. This may be so, but the key word is FEEL. They are relying on their feelings and the experience and NOT on the Word of God to guide them.

Maybe Benny can’t heal but who’s he hurting? Perhaps we should just leave him alone. False hope is better than no hope, right? Wrong! False hope is devastating to those who rely on it. We have a “Living Hope “and that is Jesus Christ. False hope is when you believe that you can be saved through the Virgin Mary; that Allah is God Almighty, that Buddha or Krishna  are able to enlighten their followers.

I know that true healing does take place; I also know that miracles do happen: I personally have witnessed them. The problem with the churches who follow Snake Oil Religion is that they cheapen God’s grace and favour to a circus of Fast Food type “healings” that are no healings at all. They give false hope to the desperate who are probably are ignorant of the promises of God. They understand the promises of God according to the false teaching they have accepted as truth. This is why it is so important what you believe.

The Fly

In the 1986 Sci-Fi Horror movie, The Fly. Seth Brundle played by Jeff Goldblum is infected with fly DNA and is getting sicker as the hours pass by. His teeth fall out and weird hairs start growing all over his body. His girlfriend, Veronica, played by Geena Davis comes into his darkened room and sees what he looks like.

She is horrified at the transformation in him and says, “You’re getting worse.”

“No” he retorts in a sinister gravelly voice, “I’m getting better.”

She could see the changes destroying him; he no longer was the man she once knew, he was becoming something grotesque and frightening to her. But to him, he was getting stronger physically and mentally more astute. To him he was better than he had ever been. What she saw and what he saw were two totally different points of view. So it is with the Laodicean church today. It is apostate and getting worse by the month. It is aligning itself to accept a one world religion through Ecumenism—error and outright apostasy.

The bride of Christ is looking on and saying “You are getting worse.“Nooo,” says Rick Warren, the Pope, the Benny’s and the Kenny’s: “We are getting better.”

A major reason that many of us are in error is because we simply DO NOT want to listen.

We rely on others to determine what we believe and follow a man blindly into a precarious place where error adds to error. I do not know exactly what it is with some believers when confronted with the truth:  We tend to react negatively!

Brethren, let us be  more discerning and careful where we give of ourselves. If you are deceived by Benny Hinn and others like him. what will you do when true deception comes?

Yours in Christ,

Vernon Gray.