While doing some research I landed on the website of the much-famed T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan). I watched a video clip where after a visit to T.B. Joshua, Pricilla Kanu who was HIV/Aids positive type 1 claimed to be cured.
I do not believe that T.B. Joshua has special powers to cure people or to predict the future. I know questioning the much-revered and idolised Scoan will upset many a devoted reader, my close friends and family. I will attempt to do this respectfully.
In 2011, Scoan was accused of causing the deaths of three people with HIV in the UK after they stopped taking ARVs on the advice of Scoan pastors. Scoan is reported as saying “We are not the healer. God is the healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure. We do not ask people to stop taking medication. Doctors treat; God heals.”
Is there a difference between healing and curing? It depends on which definition you use. Healing can mean to alleviate anguish e.g. like time heals all wounds or can also mean cause a wound, injury, or person to become healthy again similar to cure which is to relieve a person of the symptoms of a disease or condition.
Scientists have tried to investigate whether prayer can heal you. The last 10 years have seen an increase in the number of studies investigating whether prayer makes any difference. The Handbook of Religion and Health, documents nearly 1 200 studies on the effects of prayer on health.
Unfortunately, the results are not definitive, but a few things are for sure. Most studies confirm that the devout tend to be healthier. That by no means suggests a cause (prayer) and effect (health) but rather an association, that the religious may lead more a healthier lifestyle. The pious tend to be less likely to drink and smoke. Some of the statistics are glaring: hospitalised patients who never attended church tend to stay in hospital for three times longer than patients who visited church regularly, heart patients who were not religious were 14 times more likely to die after surgery and elderly people who were not regular church goers were more likely to have a stroke.
Places of worship such as temples, mosques and churches may encourage and do more to take better care of their congregation.
Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices may help patients with terminal diseases such as cancer and Aids cope with their illness and make them feel better, improving the patients’ quality of life at a crucial time. Prayer or other spiritual practices may help decrease a patient’s anxiety and sense of isolation. By communing with religious figures, friends, or family and other devout members through prayer, a patient can connect with others. These moments of community can be very powerful for people struggling with debilitating diseases that leave them feeling isolated, depressed, angry and alone.