• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Daily Mirror Notes Conservative Candidate’s Faith-Healing Anecdote

From the Daily Mirror:

A Tory candidate has claimed she healed a man who was deaf in both ears through the power of prayer.

Kristy Adams, the Conservative candidate in Hove and Portslade, said she laid her hands on the man’s ears and said: “Be healed in Jesus’ name.”

When she removed her hands, she claimed, he could hear without his hearing aids.

…Mrs Adams, who was involved in Theresa May’s campaign against modern slavery, spoke of the healing at the King’s Arms Church in Bedford in 2010.

…The church is an offshoot of social justice organisation The King’s Arms Project, which was formed in 1989 by Tory peer Baroness Stroud.

More accurately, then, Adams claims that “Jesus healed a man who was deaf” – an important distinction, even though it is sometimes blurred by high-profile Christians who specialise in “faith-healings”.

Adams’s account of the healing appears in a 2010 audio interview on the church website, which the Mirror has re-posted. She says that it occurred while she was part of a Christian team witnessing at a New Age health expo in London in 2009; another member of the team was a Jewish evangelist named Stuart Cohen (“his passion is to see Jewish people come to God”), who “had hearing aids in both ears and I just thought that wasn’t right.” She prayed for Cohen’s healing, after which they were both amazed to discover that he could now hear without the hearing aids.

Christians of course generally believe that God can answer prayers, but when someone makes a strong claim to have witnessed or been part of a supernatural intervention, there is bound to be reasonable scepticism, which in turn may lead to doubts about judgement and credulity. Also, the very idea of faith-healing raises questions about the status of the disabled in certain strands of Christianity (why wasn’t it “right” for an evangelist to have hearing aids?), and giving people unrealistic hopes of healing can be unwise and cruel.

However, a sneering soundbite from a Labour figure that also appears in the Mirror article seems to me to be unwarranted:

Labour MP Paul Flynn said: “Egads. Can we get this on the National Health?

“I think they’ll probably make her the science spokesman if she does get elected for the Tory party. She seems up to their standard of unscientific science.

But all Adams has done is to relate an experience as she remembers it. She did not claim to have scientific proof, and the story – dredged up from 2010 – is not part of her election campaign or political profile. For outsiders, her belief about what happened may seem odd and exotic, but I wouldn’t use it as the basis for claiming that Adams is therefore “unscientific” or would be unable to be a competent MP. Like Adams, Flynn is also currently running for office (that “Labour MP” designation is not currently correct, as there are no MPs during election season), and mocking someone for believing that God can heal illness through prayer seems to be a pointless fight to pick.

The King’s Arms Church was also at the centre of controversy in 2010, when Philippa Stroud was standing for election. I discussed this here and here.