Pentecostal Pastors In Kenya Burn HIV Drugs In Favor Of Prayer

A group of pentecostal pastors in Kenya have been conducting public “healing ceremonies” for people living with HIV, the Washington Post reports.

The ceremonies begin with a “miracle blessing” of the HIV-infected person. Afterwards, the pastor burns the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declares them “cured.” Then the church charges the person a fee and sends them on their way.

“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” the Washington Post quotes Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church located just outside of Nairobi. “We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”

But this isn’t entirely true. Reports that people have given their life savings for the so-called “cure” have begun surfacing.

Margaret Lavonga told the Washington Post she was required to pay $12 just to be accepted as a candidate for the miracle treatment, and an additional $24 after it had been completed. The pastor then confiscated her meds and set them on fire. Afterwards, she was sent to a clinic for a “test” that confirmed she was HIV-free.

“I was upbeat, but after two weeks I started falling sick,” Lavonga is quoted as saying. “When I was tested, the virus was still in me and had multiplied since I was not taking the drugs.”

INERELA+, an interfaith network of religious leaders living with or affected by HIV, reports that an average of 10 people per month undergo the miracle treatment in Nairobi. Their documents show as many as 2,000 total cases in Kenya as a whole.

In a country where HIV is still heavily stigmatized, many people turn to the so-called “cure” out of fear or because they don’t want to follow a lifelong drug regimen. But quitting treatment can be dangerous as it can cause a person to become resistant to the drugs. It can also lead to death, which has been the case for many individuals. Four people who participated in the healing ceremony with Lavonga died within a month.

“The patients do not actually get healed,” Gabriel Amori, who works for INERELA+ in Uganda, told the paper, “but they try to believe they are to prove they have faith, even if there is no clinical proof.”

It’s estimated that 1.6 million people are currently living with HIV in Kenya. So far, the government has not taken any action to stop the pastors from promoting the bogus cure, despite the thousands of people who have been hurt or who have died as a result.

Photo credit: RambergMediaImages, charismanews.

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  • 2eo

    What a good idea, prayer has helped so many people around the world do absolutely nothing, because there is no god and prayers are a waste of time.

  • AuntieChrist

    Just when you think christians can stoop no lower they manage to one up themselves.

  • Cam

    It’s weird, it’s almost as if they want to kill their own believers.

  • Merv

    At least they are victimizing themselves this time.

  • 2eo

    @Cam: If it wasn’t for the sick, infirm and stupid would there actually be any christians left?

  • szacunek81

    Religion is sooo evil…

  • the other Greg

    Unfortunately, things like this happen in the US too but the participants are aware that it’s not such a good idea to publicize them. “Faith healing” is more underground here.

  • RSun

    @2eo: Agreed. From my observations there are only 2 types of religious people…1.) the indoctrinated and 2.) the damaged & desperate.

  • tardis

    Wow. What an ignorant thing to do.

  • Pistolo

    I’m so angry. I hate that so many people have evangelized to lesser developed countries because things like this happen. They’re never there to account for the repercussions. Homophobia is just out of control in Africa too…

  • boring

    Well that’s unfortunate.

  • Stache1

    @Merv: Yeah, well this week anyways.

  • damon459

    Can we please stop being non-voilent hippies now and declare war on religious nuts? I mean really people like this should be burned at the stake, and their ashes force fed to their followers.

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  • mawbinatl

    @Merv: What a totally insensitive thing to say.

    While I am not religious fanatic, if people want to get by on believing in a higher power, then let them do so.

    What I’m astonished about is that the government is letting this happen since many of the medicines provided to HIV infected people are distributed to them via federal/governmental programs.

    I think that the UN or some other world faction should step in and intervene in this type of nonsense. People are dying unnecessarily.

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