Losing His Religion: A Former Bethel Student Speaks Out

Robert Vujasinovic attended the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry 2003-2006.

Robert Vujasinovic was a wide-eyed 20-year-old when he traveled from Reno to Redding to attend his first service at Bethel in 2002. The two girls writhing on the floor speaking in tongues during the ceremony did not dissuade the young skate punk from enrolling in the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.

Vujasinovic would remain at the school for the next three years, studying - among other signs and wonders - the tactics and techniques of faith healing. He had a flare for it. Bethel leadership, from head apostle Bill Johnson and anointed prophet Kris Vallotton on down, encouraged the young would-be prophet. He was “on fire” with the holy spirit.

Now, years after walking away from the church, Vujasinovic questions if any of the healings he performed and witnessed at Bethel were real.

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R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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73 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks, R.V. This reinforces my suspicions about Bethel and other evangelical religions. It would seem that only the gullible can be taken in by these antics, but instead successful business people move to Redding because of Bethel. They are the medical professionals and business owners and council members who treat us and sell to us and make policy decisions for us. Where is their peripheral vision?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Judging by Redding Mayor and Bethel elder Julie Winter’s recent op-ed in the RS, in which she proudly wore all her hats at the same time, I think you can count on Bethel’s increasing encroachment into local government.

  2. Darcie Gore says:

    If you are interested in how a church took over a a small Oregon town – much like Redding – watch ‘Wild Wild Country’ on Netflix. There is also a six-part documentary series, Wild Wild Country. The formula is set…

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      “Wild Wild Country” does indeed draw some interesting parallels with Bethel. The Rajneesh used kundalini yoga techniques to control his thousands of followers that look very similar to the activities that take place at Bethel every Sunday. Some orthodox evangelicals have accused Bill Johnson of using kundalini, but I haven’t found much of a connection yet. I think the illusionist/stage hypnotist/religious skeptic Derren Brown has a more likely explanation: Faith healers have been using these techniques for more than a century. They’ve been handed down as successive waves of revivalism have washed across the country.

  3. Matthew Grigsby says:

    There are many things Bethel I think I could overlook or just learn to tolerate, but the simple fact is that they scare me greatly, both on a personal level and as a member of the community. Their anti-gay philosophy got a bright spotlight shown on it this past spring when their sermons went viral, and it really woke me up. I know all too well the threats members of the LGBTQ+ community face every day *without* adding in the religious aspect.

    Coming to terms with your sexuality is something only a small percentage of people will ever have to deal with, and I fear for the young people who are sorting out their feelings and trying to find a place where they fit. Bethel isn’t it. Moreover, Bethel will actively seek them out to change them, causing untold damage to their identity. If Bethel gets their grip on a young person during a particularly vulnerable phase, the harm could be permanent. Bethel has a bully pulpit to stoke the fires of righteous anger, and we’ve already seen those results with the Williams brothers and the Matson/Mowder murders. How long before something else happens?

    They are a church to be feared, not just by members of the LGBTQ+ community, and no glossy coating or mask can hide that simple fact. Thanks RV for bringing these stories to light.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’m sorry to inform you Matt that Bethel Pastor Kris Vallotton began circulating a petition last week among his flock in support of President Trump’s proposed executive order to classify gender in federal civil rights law as strictly binary, male/female, because, believe it or not, they claim that’s what science says. LOL. That’s not what science says at all! How this is not a violation of the separation between church and state as everything to do with the wishy-washy regulations on churches.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        T-shirt slogan: “Science doesn’t care what you believe” So true, but the sheep who blindly follow some religious teachings will never understand that.

  4. Richard Christoph says:

    Excellent article, R.V.

  5. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I continue to be puzzled by the demonization (:::cough:::) of Bethel because it advocates belief in faith healing. I’ll admit I had never seen people “laying on the hands” until Bethel’s expansion, so at first it was jarring to see four or five people huddled around someone in the parking lot at Starbucks, laying on the hands and praying fervently. But as I understand it, this practice isn’t based on a belief that Bethelites themselves “do the healing,” but that God does the healing at the beseeching of the faithful.

    How is that fundamentally different from any other group of Christians having faith that their prayers on behalf of some ill loved one or work colleague might be answered? Most of the Christians I know believe in the power of prayer and miracles—not just Bethelites. How Bethelites engage in this strikes me as a difference of degree, not in kind. Contrasts in style more than anything else.

    Similarly, crises of faith such as that experience by Mr. Vujasinovic are certainly not unique to Bethel. Raise your hand if you’ve had one after experiencing a disconnect between religious faith and observation/reason.

    :::raises hand:::

    Ditto Bethel leadership’s anti-homosexuality views, including conversion therapy. I don’t like those views, but do I think they’re unique to Bethel among Redding’s churches? C’mon, man.

    What sets Bethel apart from other local churches, in my mind, isn’t their beliefs about healing or homosexuality and the like. It’s their agenda to eventually run the City of Redding and local school districts, to dominate the business realm and other realms of power, per the Seven Mountains Mandate. That agenda is being pursued by Bethel to increasingly successful ends. It’s the growing power to impose their worldview on the rest of—which it’s easy to assume is an implicit goal of taking over every damned corner of the social framework. That’s where I think non-Bethelites should be doing some serious hand-wringing, rather than picking at theocratic nits.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Actually Bethel teaches that it is the healer doing the healing. Jesus in their view was a normal human being and anyone who’s been anointed can perform miracles. This view is considered heresy by most other denominations including many evangelicals. So its considerably different. But if the faith healing and the homophobia don’t bother you that much why on earth does their dominionism get to you? Why not let them run the whole town?

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        I personally know of two people who have died because they were told that they healed by the Bethelites performing their healing; so they stopped the medical treatment that was helping them and died. Gullible? Yeah. But still dead. And the comments from the gay community to R.V.’s previous piece stating that Bethelites go to gay bars to convert the patrons is harassment. I don’t know of any other religious organization that goes that far. I refuse to patronize any business, medico, or restaurant that is known to be part of Redding’s Bethel movement. Is this prejudice? You bet. And it certainly makes it tough to support any City Council decisions.

      • Richard Goates says:

        Jesus was far from a normal human being. His 30 years of “Work” is what took him from an Ordinary Man to what he became, what he discovered within. He also said “Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgment” Jn. 7:24 . Right judgment meaning seeing from within not without.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        R.V. — I absolutely didn’t say the faith healing and homophobia don’t bother me. What I’m arguing is that the dominionism issue is what people should focus on if they’re concerned about Bethel. THAT is what is going to impact our lives, for better or worse. Why not let them run the whole town, indeed. That’s where the focus should be. In 10 years, will talking about Darwin in local public school biology classes be verboten?

        I don’t really see much substantive, practical difference between those who believe God is healing through them and those who believe they heal because they are announted by God to do so. We can argue whether or not the latter is hearsay, but to me the difference is neither here nor there. Years ago the local fishwrap ran an article about New Age healers in Mt. Shasta. It featured a woman who was dying (horribly) of breast cancer after putting her faith in crystal healing. All fish in the same kettle to me—the nuances of differing belief systems matter to them, but don’t interest me as much as what they all have in common: the rejection of rational empiricism.

  6. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Great article R.V. I love your work. I worry about the young people are drawn into this church at a vulnerable time of their lives, get to hear and participate in some of the best music around, and pay to attend a school that prepares them for……what? I imagine there are hundreds of “after Bethel” stories. I know a few myself. “Wrong” seems too mild for the activity of making money from people by tricking them with made up signs and miracles. (I asked a student and he said he didn’t take a class in “How to Create a Glory Cloud” when you set up your own church. I’ve heard that the Glory Cloud stays in Redding.)
    Research shows that the placebo effect has value. Studies have shown that placebos don’t work when key brain chemicals are blocked. Which means to me that our brains can provide some healing if we believe the pill, faith healer, shaman or priest does or says something we believe will provide relief. There is a company that designs personal placebos for people.

  7. Candace C says:

    Steven, I consider you an intelligent, thoughtful person so I’m curious as to your answer to R.V.’s question “But if the faith healing and the homophobia don’t bother you that much why on earth does their dominionism get to you? Why not let them run the whole town?” Also, the other churches in town that have similar practices and beliefs as Bethel pale in comparison to the reach of Bethel’s bully pulpit. So far I’ve personally not heard of one of those churches saying out loud that they want to follow the “ Seven Mountains Mandate”. I’ve been doing some serious hand wringing for quite some time.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I addressed R.V.’s comment above by rejecting it as a false dichotomy. As a rational empiricist/secular humanist-type, I’m entertained by squabbling over religious doctrine, but at the end of the day, it’s not those differences that affect my life. It’s their shared beliefs.

      The rest of your comment affirms my point. It’s Bethel’s growing clout that matters. What are we going to do about that? One option is to push back (see Beverly’s post). Another is to do what you would do to cope if you had to live in Utah (religion) or Iowa (politics).

      I will say this about Beverly’s strategy: It’s probably personally satisfying, but I don’t think it’ll do anything to stop Bethel’s forward progress. To some degree, Bethelite-owned businesses have created a self-sustaining economy. It’s not a closed system, but I think it’s at a point where it can weather being boycotted by more than a few non-members.

  8. Tim says:

    I mostly agree with Steve, except I don’t find it at all unusual for a religion to try to control government (New England Puritans back in the day, Mormons in Utah more recently — heck, even Jews in Israel & Shia Muslims in Iran today). Not that such arrangements should be encouraged, but Seven Molehills is hardly an original doctrine (good luck getting elected in Chicago or Los Angeles without the blessing of key church leaders)…

    And Joanne is right about the placebo effect; it can be very powerful. Did you know that in clinical trials 75% of patients who respond to an anti-depressant also responded to a (much less risky) placebo ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172306/ )?

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Nor do I find it unusual for religions to try to control government. Again, the difference is that on the local scene, Bethel is getting to be increasingly good at it.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, won the last election over alderman Jesus Garcia. I’m not going to chase it down on Google, but I’m guessing Jesus got fair share of church-leader endorsements. 🙂

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Pastor Mike Bickle, good friend of Bill Johnson, says 80 percent of it is fake.


      And it appears the pair of you may have fallen for the “placebo narrative.”

      • Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

        I consider Scientific America Mind a better source of information R.V. I also know that there is a mechanism in the brain that can block the effects of even Morphine for pain relief. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-placebo-how-our-brains-can-heal-our-minds-and-bodies/
        I’m not suggesting you can grow a limb because you think you can or heal most diseases.

      • Tim says:

        The placebo effect encompasses a few different phenomena. Some are physiological: If someone is going to a noisy doctor’s office packed with sick people coughing and feels about as welcome as at the DMV, he will have added stress – especially if he is preparing to talk about sensitive matters (or show private parts) to a total stranger. Doctors have long known about this, it is even a recognized cause of high blood pressure (“white coat hypertension”). Yet only recently have some (higher end) medical practices begun to switch to a “health spa” type model where clients feel more comfortable and relaxed before/during/after their office visit. Which group of patients do you think will have better outcomes?

        Anyone who has treated a small child for a minor scrape knows the youngster will feel better if you perform an elaborate magic routine during treatment rather than simply cleaning the wound & slapping on a bandaid. Patch Adams was proving the effectiveness of humor & showmanship back in 1971, but it still hasn’t caught on.

        True, part of the placebo effect is mental — just human perception. But that part is still useful for things like pain management. In a famous study, scientists at the university of Toronto recorded patient’s perception of pain while undergoing colonoscopies without anesthesia and discovered that patients actually rated as more pleasant an objectively more painful procedure as long as the visit did not end immediately after the most uncomfortable part. Dentists are familiar with unnecessary anesthesia – often a patient will have had such an awful experience with a prior dentist that she must go under even for a routine cleaning.

  9. Johanna Anderson says:

    I’m curious how the known medical practitioners in our area (Winter, Van Mol, who else? – I think there are several) can justify practicing medicine and supporting faith healing simultaneously.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      I read about another family who are recent residents. The wife is a medico of some kind with Mercy, as I recall, and the husband owns a boba (?) tea shop on Lake Boulevard. They moved here because of Bethel. I won’t be buying his tea nor seeking medical assistance from her.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        Addendum: Van Mol and Winter won’t see MediCare patients; so how will Winter vote on issues regarding seniors? Oh wait! Perhaps she’ll suggest they go to a Bethel healer.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          I have talked to two doctors, and ER guy and a psychiatrist about Bethel. They were familiar with my stories in anewscafe.com. They thanked me profusely for shedding light on the subject.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      One of my tennis buddies is an emergency room MD at UC Davis Med Center. She’s also a Bethel member. I won’t pretend we’ve talked about it, so this is pure speculation: I would guess she would say that medicine and the power of faith are complementary.

      And even if you’re a non-believer, that’s probably right….see Tim’s comment regarding the power of suggestion (placebo effect).

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Why don’t you talk to her about it?

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          I guess because it doesn’t matter to me one bit. If she’s worked as hard at being an ER doctor as she’s worked to become an excellent tennis player, I have little doubt that she’s an excellent ER doctor, and that’s good enough.

          It’s probably a comfort to some of her patients and their families to put their faith in God during a medical emergency—and whether or not you believe God intervenes, it’s well established that faith has medical benefits.

          It’s also the case that ER doctors sometimes lose patients. If my friend finds comfort in the idea that God doesn’t always spare the lives of her patients, regardless of her best efforts*, why would I want to try to dissuade her? I sometimes wish I wasn’t such a damned nihilist in times of trouble.

          *I do believe that this woman is constitutionally incapable of anything other than best effort—her determination to win on the court is off the charts. (Sweet Jesus, I hope she doesn’t read this.)

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            As I pointed out in the article, Bethel doesn’t have an explanation for death and human suffering. Sounds like an excellent topic to bring up next time she’s smoking you on the court.

          • Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

            Trust and faith in your doctor might fall under the placebo effect. Your brain gets on board with what they are suggesting rather than fighting.

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            R.V. — I’m pretty sure her explanation for the proximate causes of suffering and death would be the same as mine: physiological reactions to trauma, disease, and/or aging, with death occurring at total systemic failure. We’re both trained in biology.

            As for the ultimate cause? Far as I know, most Christian denominations attribute that to The Fall as described in Genesis. Unless Bethelites believe otherwise, asking her why God allows humans to suffer and die would shed no new light—I already know the stock answer (which I personally find to be absurd, particularly as it applies to kids—one of the reasons I lost my faith as an adolescent).

            Maybe you’re suggesting that I ask her why a benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God would design such a system and put it into motion, knowing the inevitable outcome (see: omniscient).

            I’ve encountered the Christian explanation for that 1,000+ times. I don’t need a refresher (unless I have the opportunity to ask Karen Armstrong).

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Steve your mistake is thinking Bethel doctrine is the same as any other Christian sect. It is not.

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            Okay, but I actually *don’t* think Bethel doctrine is the same as any other Christian denomination. (Nor do I think Roman Catholic doctrine is the same as Dutch Reformed doctrine is the same as Russian Orthodox doctrine is the same as Assyrian Church of the East doctrine is the same as….)

            As for why suffering and death exist, all of Christianity struggles with explaining how we all have our inherited guilt coming because of The Fall in the Garden of Eden, and to explain how the fault could possibly be ours when The Creator made us as we are and knew in advance what would happen. The response is usually a torturously illogical appeal to “free will” that absolutely begs the question.

            If Bethel comes at that from an entirely different angle, I am genuinely interested. Enlighten me.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            You’re playing tennis with a better source than me. But you won’t talk to her about it. Bethel must have put the whammy on you. Or perhaps you feel it’s impolite to ask. Bethel counts on such reluctance.

            I will do a full discourse on Bill Johnson’s radical theology in the future. It will probably be in the same story where I explore whether it is true, as several sources have informed me, that Bethel pays off local pastors of other denominations that otherwise might expose there numerous heresies.

          • Tim says:

            When you say “Radical Theology” are you using as a baseline a religion preaching that God picked a miniscule fraction of the population on a tiny sliver of land as his “chosen people,” one that believes a half man half god was born to a virgin only to later die and then come back to life, and one that practices simulated/mystical cannibalism? Because in comparison it seems rather dull to believe you can make someone else feel well by giving them attention and telling them it will get better…

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            R.V. — I don’t really know what you mean by Bethel putting the whammy on me. I suspect >99% of Bethelites are unaware that I exist.

            I don’t ask Bethelites to explain their views on death and suffering because, as I said above, I’m unaware of those views differing substantively from those of other Christian churches. I really don’t think there’s any there there. But I do look forward to your article on the topic of why other churches view Bethel’s beliefs as heretical.

            In my experience, ALL churches count on reluctance to ask hard questions. I’ve spent 50 years asking hard questions about religion. These days, I tend not to ask them of casual friends and older relatives.

            Tim — I’m curious about that as well.

            In one corner we have a church that believes that its members can cure sick people by laying on hands and praying. In the other corner, we have a much larger church that for centuries has systematically hidden rampant kiddy-fiddling, thus abetting it.

            Let’s spend all our outrage on the former? I guess it sucks to be the new kid on the block.

  10. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Why does Sozos spell the same thing backwards ? I mean I know I have dyslexia, but is their some hidden code here ? And what the H is Sozos ? All I know is Chris Vallotton has a Corvette with all kinds of gadgets that mimic that same Corvette the evangelical leader in So Cal said everyone in Shasta County would attain…vroom vroom. And who does Bill Johnson & Chris Vallotton take their cues from ? I’ve met and heard them both, not very well educated from my perspective. But, neither was Amy Simple McPherson or Elmer Gantry. It doesn’t take a formal education to take on the act of subliminal messaging. The way a community keeps a cult-like group from taking over is to become educated to their ways, to vote smart and not to support their leaders and the commands they give to their lemmings. I was recently hospitalized at Mercy and one of the Docs was doing her rounds and asked me if she could pray for me. I was in and out on various pain meds, but must have mumbled in the affirmative, she put one hand on my head, one on my heart and proceeded to call for Jesus to takeover as she was not capable of healing me, on and on for a good 3-5 minutes, she spewed this healing mantra, all the while nurses came in to take my vitals but turning around with a look of what is going on here. Well, her healing didn’t work, as I came through it all thanks to a regimen of Rx and home health nursing. But, most of all I was healed by my own faith in myself; not some charlatan that will eventually see her like-minded followers end up like those in Guyana years ago, and very unfortunately indeed. Everything comes to an end, and this too will, hopefully in a rationally exposed manner. Yes, we all know Bethel has spent countless funds to help the City of Redding, gave out hundreds to Carr Fire persons, but, this better not blind-side our City Council or staff, or the Dominionism will be a reality. Stand Strong City Council.
    PS Go see Boy Erased at the local movie theater, a well documented expose of Conversion Therapy, based on a real incident. CA will introduce and pass a strong anti-Conversion Therapy law in the 2019-2020 session, despite all the frantic ph calls to legislators by BSSM students.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      It’s well you were heavily medicated. Otherwise you would probably ripped out the IV’s and made a quick retreat to Redding Medical. I don’t like religious people knocking on my door trying to sell their beliefs to me. I probably would have punched a doc who laid hands on me. Mercy, being a Catholic hospital, doesn’t allow preventative procedures for pregnancy such as tubal ligation but apparently they condone this sort of religious hogwash on unsuspecting patients.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Mercy, being a Catholic Church-owned hospital, is by definition an arm of a religious organization. I don’t think anyone should be surprised if they encounter some religiosity there.

        I favor Mercy as my local hospital mainly because I’ve never gotten over my distrust of the other place owing to the Moon-Realyvasquez fiasco.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I have very little exposure to Johnson, so I won’t offer up a judgement except to say that I find his unapologetic money-grubbing to be offputting.

      I did watch hours of Vallotton video back when the series of Bethel posts (including mine) dropped here on ANC. He’s an affable, somewhat charismatic theological lightweight who comes off every bit the former small-town used-car salesman that he is. One of my enduring reactions was to think of my Bethel friends and feel disappointed: Really? This guy?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Frank the ER doctor I mentioned above who thanked anewscafe.com for its Bethel series earlier this year works at Mercy. So it would seem the entire hospital is not on board with the program. You must have been heavily medicated to allow that doc to use that routine on you!

    • Colleen Adams says:

      Oh holy crap! I cannot believe that a doctor prayed over you… Geez! My husband is a doctor; he did his residency at Mercy and then practiced for a couple of years in Anderson. We recently moved to Sacramento. He would have lost his mind if he had seen that in the hospital. When we moved earlier this year, a Bethelite doctor started at the clinic he left… just in time! Bethel doctors, ugh! Well, try having Bethel patients, many of them unwilling to vaccinate their children or give them antibiotics for things like strep throat. I don’t even know why they even go to the doctor at all!

  11. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Scary story Frank. Beverly, I wonder if we can take out a “Do Not Proselytize” form as well as the “Do Not Resuscitate” form while in the hospital? I hate being a captive audience to anyone. And Frank was.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Although I must admit that out here in the sticks we are seldom bothered, but I’d like to put your Do Not Proselytize form on my front door in hopes of dissuading the religious door-knockers. In the little community of Johnson Park outside of Burney, the Jehovah Witnesses have built their Kingdom Hall. Since that religion finds it necessary to spread their particular word, Johnson Park residents are hit heavily with door knockers. I was in one of the JP neighborhoods, and a homeowner had a large sign on his fence: “No Jehovahs!” I understand the sentiment. I really dislike being panhandled in my own home.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Heh. When I was young I used to invite Jehovah’s Witnesses into my home. I had a routine where I’d try to come off as a wannnabe believer who had just a few questions…

        Once it was an extremely friendly and gracious old man (he said he was 80) who complemented me on my inquisitive mind. He said he wished he’d been a seeker of truth like me when he was my age, as he’d then be better prepared to answer my questions.

        He was accompanied by a young woman (early 20s like me) who stared silently and hatefully at me the entire time.

        It wasn’t until much later that I came to appreciate her point of view. In the parlance of my youth: I was being a total dickhead, cruelly toying with the old guy for my own amusement, and she knew it.

        • Linda Cooper says:

          Oh, Steven Towers. I was right there with you. Regarding the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I too played. In Pacific Grove, California. In”‘those days,” the “Watchtower,’ their publication, had graphics of (for example) of women with breasts bursting out of a dress. Along with wild and crazy subject headings. My point is, I politely told them that I just couldn’t have their publication inside my home, because I had a young daughter in our house. I told them that their publication couldn’t be on my coffee table. They left immediately. I will take full credit that their publication has softened over the years. When I am more sane, I will dig for the graphics, and publish. Such a hoot. Think Marvel Comics.

  12. Linda Cooper says:

    Had to post it. Mark Twain had a long standing objection to Mary Baker Eddy, who headed the Christian Science Church. He published a book on the subject, uh, which I no longer have in my library. But here’s something from Google:

    “There isn’t anything so grotesque or so incredible that the average human being can’t believe it. At this very day there are thousands upon thousands of Americans of average intelligence who fully believe in “Science and Health,” although they can’t understand a line of it, and who also worship the sordid and ignorant old purloiner of that gospel — Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy, who they do absolutely believe to be a member, by adoption, of the Holy Family, and on the way to push the Savior to third place and assume occupancy of His present place, and continue that occupancy during the rest of eternity.”
    – Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013), p. 136. Dictated 22 June 1906.

    So, yeah. Christian Science does not believe in “using” doctors. However, Religious Science, founded by Ernest Holmes, does believe in “using” doctors. Their thinking, I think, is that God is everywhere present, including with doctors.

    As an aside, I was recently in the Chico Enloe Hospital. One of the nurse aids told me he was a Bethel member. Because I am who I am, and the oxygen and antibiotics were working well, I said really? So where’s my $1,000 because my house burned down in the Carr Fire? He was genuinely surprised that I had not received the money. He even took down my name and phone number, because “that isn’t right. They promised.” Ha, ha. I was just testing the waters for fun anyway. And no, not surprised I didn’t get a phone call.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Amazon and two Mark Twain books on Mary Baker Eddy: “Christian Science” and “Twain and Eddy: The Conflicted Relationship of Mark Twain and Christian Science Founder Mary Baker Eddy”

      What? No phone call? No $1,000? How can that be? They promised! Ask the mayor.

      • Linda Cooper says:

        No, Beverly, still no $1,000. And (I’m being very serious here) it was you I thought of with the lad in the hospital. In a way back when post, you wished I had followed through with the Bethel Church request for the promised grand. Well, I did try again this time. Oh, that will be my last effort for sure. And that last one was by chance. My research is over! Hoo-haw, and howdy doo-dee.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I read Twain’s “Letters from the Earth” when I was about 12 or 13. It played a substantial role in my “conscious uncoupling” from my church. I thought it was hilariously funny—Twain had a gift for satire, but he wasn’t all that subtle.

  13. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Having grown up in a church (70+ years ago) that practiced faith healing, from an early age my question was, “Isn’t all healing faith healing?” Don’t we put faith in the prescription that the doctors give us? Don’t we put faith in the surgeon’s skill? And can’t that intelligence that developed the prescription I take or the skill of the surgeon I trust be a gift from God?
    Let’s just say that my views weren’t terribly popular at the church college I attended for a couple of years.
    And, by-the-way, this religious philosophy has been around for many, many years, it’s just that now it’s promulgation is being taken into the digital age.
    And an also, BTW is that I’m not TOO apprehensive about the take-over of our town . . not as long as we have an R.V and ANC standing watch!!

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      And if only ANC can increase its numbers of paying viewers who are like-minded, we can have our own cult of moderate thinkers. Then we’d have a City Council that acts rather than reacts, a solution to our criminal invasion and illegal homeless camps, more funding for the police and fire departments, and on and on. And maybe a Costco at the north end of town rather on the south end where the residents don’t want it.

  14. Richard Christoph says:

    The placebo effect has been well known for decades and may be responsible for over 1/3 of medical efficacy, especially if both patient and practitioner “believe” in the therapy being provided. But what is more fascinating is recent research in which the patient KNOWS that the treatment is placebo and benefits significantly nonetheless.


    Having been raised in a conservative, fundamentalist church in which knocking on doors to share one’s faith was a routine, organized, and strongly recommended activity, I am now loathe to ever be rude or impolite to those who are sincerely following what they believe to be what God wishes them to do. In the past, I have responded that I am a Born-Again Agnostic with good Biblical knowledge, very happy with life, and that I appreciate their concern and admire their honoring of their beliefs. And if they are JWs, I add that the Holocaust Museum in D.C. has an excellent presentation on the 20,000+ JWs who perished under the Reich, some being so bold as to pass out anti-Nazi leaflets on the steps of the Reichstag. Though I lack the gene for “faith,” it is not difficult to admire it in those who truly live their beliefs. And few drive Corvettes…

  15. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    “A born-again Agnostic!” I like it.I may co-opt that title …with your permission, of course.

    • Richard Christoph says:

      It would be an honor, Adrienne. Unless you wish to use the moniker of a good friend who describes herself as “An Unwashed Heathen.”

  16. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I’m going a bit irreverent here . .. warning . . . A time or two I watched a televised broadcast of a faith healing service. The evangelist would put his hand on the head of the supplicant and yell the word, “Heal.” I kept wanting the person being prayed for to drop to all fours and bark obediently. Guess I never learned how to spell heal/heel!!

  17. Beverly Stafford says:

    Did I read that Erin Resner is a Bethel member?

  18. Katie Connaughton says:

    I just don’t understand the draw to this unaccredited program.

    They have some bizarre stuff on their website.
    -“BSSM is not for the faint of heart.”
    – “BSSM is not a place to rehab, and it is not a discipleship school for those coming out of lifestyle sins. There is too much freedom in our environment for those struggling with self-control. Rather than focusing on correcting behavior in students we reinforce and grow their “Revivalist Lifestyle.””

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      Perhaps its the draw of knowing one can ace the course and receive a diploma in SOMEthing, no matter how useless.

  19. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Just a bit more on my time at Mercy; the nursing staff, hospitalists, phlebotamists, the Interns were all very professional and I’m sure look askance when a Doc goes into the ‘healing’ mode. It isn’t the norm, but even one time is enough. I did lodge a complaint.

  20. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    What the proponents of the “placebo narrative” don’t get is the techniques of faith healing actual work, temporarily. When the “treatment” wears off naturally, it’s blamed on lack of faith.

  21. Bruce Vojtecky says:

    I was away from the internet when this article was posted so I am late posting a comment but feel I must. As one who grew up in Utah, versus those who only visited or googled Utah, I would ask what is meant by the “coping if one lived in Utah” comment.
    The Mormons established Utah after being chased, violently, from the East. Bethel moved into Redding, uninvited, to take over. There is no comparison between the two religions. While the LDS church has adapted, through supposed visions by leaders, Bethel seems to be nothing but a another charlatan scam.
    In the Seattle Times a day ago it was noted that Utah, with zero Fortune 500 company HQs, has leap frogged over Washington, with 16 Fortune 500 HQs, into fifth place for Tech destinations. Many educated people are moving to Utah and not to cope.

  22. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Just a reminder the ‘$1,000.’ being offered by Bethel, during the Carr Fire, was never cash or check, it was two $500. gift cards to WalMart…that non-union, lower pay to female employees, inferior products, many employees who are part-time and needing to go on Social Services…kind of place. Wonder if Bethel would state how many were actually handed out ? I submit that WalMart gave Bethel the gift cards with no expenditure on their part.

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