Who is Benny Hinn?
Benny Hinn (1952-present) is a televangelist, best known for his regular "Miracle Crusades, which are revival meeting, including faith healing summits that are usually held in large stadiums in major cities, which are later broadcast worldwide on his television program, This Is Your Day.
Hinn was born in Jaffa, in 1952, in the then newly-established state of Israel to Palestinian Christian parents. He was raised within the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Soon after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War (a.k.a. "The Six-Day War"), Hinn's family emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he attended but later prematurely left the Georges Vanier Secondary School. In his books, Hinn states that his father was the mayor of Jaffa at the time of his birth, and that as a child, he was socially isolated and was handicapped by a severe stutter, but was nonetheless a first-class student.
These claims, however, have been disputed by critics of Hinn. As a teenager in Toronto, Hinn converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Pentecostalism, eventually joining a singing troupe made up of young evangelicals.
According to a 2004 CBC report on Hinn, his newfound religious devotion during this period became so intense that his family became concerned that he was turning into a religious fanatic. Hinn was taught the Bible and mentored by Dr. Winston I. Nunes of Broadview Faith Temple in Toronto.
He has written that on December 21, 1973, he traveled by charter bus from Toronto to Pittsburgh to attend a "miracle service" conducted by evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman. Although he never met her personally, he often attended her "healing services" and has often cited her as an influence in his life.
Upon moving to the United States, Hinn traveled to Orlando, Florida, where he founded the Orlando Christian Center in 1983. Eventually, Hinn began claiming that God was using him as a conduit for healings, and began holding healing services in his church. These new "Miracle Crusades" were soon held at large stadiums and auditoriums across the United States and the world, the first nationally televised service being held in Flint, Michigan, in 1989.
During the early 1990s, Hinn launched a new daily talk show called This Is Your Day, which to this day airs clips of supposed miracles from Hinn's Miracle Crusades. The program premiered on the Trinity Broadcasting Network of Paul Crouch, who would become one of Hinn's most outspoken defenders and allies.
Hinn's ministry began to rapidly grow from there, winning praise as well as criticism from fellow Christian leaders. In 1999, he stepped down as pastor of the Orlando Christian Center, moving his ministry's administrative headquarters to Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, while hosting This Is Your Day from a television studio in Orange County, California, where he now lives with his family. His former church was renamed Faith World Church under the leadership of Clint Brown, who merged his Orlando church with Hinn's.
Ministry and theology
Benny Hinn is a well-known Christian evangelist and Bible teacher who practices faith healing. He is the author of a number of best-selling inspirational Christian books. His thirty-minute TV program This Is Your Day is among the world’s most-watched Christian programs, seen on various Christian television networks, including Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Television Network, Revelation TV, Grace TV, Vision TV, INSP Networks, and The God Channel.
Hinn conducts regular "Miracle Crusades"—revival meeting / faith healing events held in sports stadiums in major cities throughout the world. Tens of millions attend his Holy Spirit Miracle Crusades each year. Benny Hinn claims to have spoken to one billion people through his crusades, including memorable crusades with attendance of 7.3 million people (in three services) in India, the largest healing service in recorded history.
Notable individuals have credited their healing to Benny Hinn, such as Evander Holyfield, who was diagnosed with a non-compliant left ventricle, and stated that through God working through Hinn, he was healed as he had "a warm feeling" go through his chest as Hinn touched him.
Hinn's teachings are Evangelical and charismatic, accepting the validity of spiritual gifts, and Word of Faith in origin, with a focus on financial prosperity. Some doctrine and practices that Hinn teaches would be thought unusual in mainstream Christianity. The charismatic Christian community (who, according to a recent study by The Barna Group, make up 46% of United States Protestants and 36% of United States Catholics), is very diverse, and Hinn's ideas would only be accepted in some constituencies.
Benny Hinn Ministries claims to support 60 mission organizations across the world and several orphanages around the world, and claims to house and feed over 100,000 children a year and support 45,000 children daily because of his donors.
Benny Hinn Ministries donated $100,000 for Relief Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims in 2007, and $250,000 to Tsunami Relief Effort in 2005.
Criticism and controversy
A controversial aspect of Hinn's ministry is his teaching on, and demonstration of, a phenomenon he dubs "The Anointing"—the power purportedly given by God and transmitted through Hinn to carry out supernatural acts. At Hinn's Miracle Crusades, he has allegedly healed attendees of blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and severe physical injuries. However, investigative reports by the Los Angeles Times, NBC's Dateline, the CBC's The Fifth Estate, and the Nine Network's 60 Minutes have called these claims into question.
Hinn has also caused controversy for theological remarks and claims he has made during TV appearances. In 1999, Hinn appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, claiming that God had given him a vision predicting the resurrection of thousands of dead people after watching the network—laying out a scenario of people placing their dead loved ones' hands on TV screens tuned into the station—and suggesting that TBN would be "an extension of Heaven to Earth."
Hinn is notable for his mistaken prophecies relating to the end times, including the destruction of homosexuals in the USA, the death of Fidel Castro in the 1990s, and the end of the world in 1992 and 1999.
A Question of Miracles
In April 2001, HBO aired a documentary entitled A Question of Miracles that focused on Hinn and a well-documented fellow Word-of-Faith German minister based in Africa, Reinhard Bonnke. Both Hinn and Bonnke offered full access to their events to the documentary crew, and the documentary team followed seven cases of "miracle healings" from Hinn's crusade over the next year.
The film's director, Antony Thomas, claimed to CNN's Kyra Phillips that they did not find any cases where people were actually healed by Hinn. Thomas said in a New York Times interview that "If I had seen miracles [from Hinn's ministry], I would have been happy to trumpet it...but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist."
"Do You Believe in Miracles"
In November 2004, the CBC Television show The Fifth Estate did a special titled "Do You Believe in Miracles" on the apparent transgressions committed by Benny Hinn's ministry. With the aid of hidden cameras and crusade witnesses, the producers of the show demonstrated Benny's apparent misappropriation of funds, his fabrication of the truth, and the way in which his staff chose crusade audience members to come on stage to proclaim their miracle healings.
In particular, the investigation highlighted the fact that the most desperate miracle seekers who attend a Hinn crusade—the quadriplegics, the brain-damaged, virtually anyone with a visibly obvious physical condition—are never allowed up on stage; those who attempt to get in the line of possible healings are intercepted and directed to return to their seats.
At one Canadian service, hidden cameras showed a mother who was carrying her Muscular Dystrophy-afflicted daughter, Grace, being stopped by two screeners when they attempted to get into the line for a possible blessing from Benny. The screeners asked the mother if Grace had been healed, and when the mother replied in the negative, they were told to return to their seats; the pair got out of line, but Grace, wanting "Pastor Benny to pray for [her]," asked her mother to support her as she tried to walk as a show of "her faith in action," according to the mother.
After several unsuccessful attempts at walking, the pair left the arena in tears, both mother and daughter visibly upset at being turned aside and crying as they explained to the undercover reporters that all Grace had wanted was for Benny to pray for her, but the staffers rushed them out of the line when they found out Grace had not been healed.
A week later at a service in Toronto, Baptist evangelist Justin Peters, who wrote his Masters in Divinity thesis on Benny Hinn and has attended numerous Hinn crusades since 2000 as part of his research for his thesis and for a seminar he developed about the Word of Faith movement entitled A Call for Discernment, also demonstrated to the hidden cameras that "people who look like me"—Peters has cerebral palsy, walks with arm-crutches, and is obviously and visibly disabled—"are never allowed on stage[...]it's always somebody who has some disability or disease that cannot be readily seen."
Like Grace and her mother, Peters was quickly intercepted as he came out of the wheelchair section (there is one at every crusade, situated at the back of the audience, far away from the stage, and never filmed for Hinn's TV show) in an attempt to join the line of those waiting to go onstage, and was told to take a seat. This segment was later edited with new footage and shown on Dateline: NBC in November 2005.
Ministry Watch issues "Donor Alert"
In March 2005, Ministry Watch issued a Donor Alert against the ministry. Benny Hinn Ministries is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
BHM raises funds for a Gulfstream jet
In December 2006, BHM sent out a mailing asking for donations towards a new Gulfstream G4SP jet valued at an estimated US$36 million and costing over US$600,000/year to maintain and operate. The 22-seat craft was purchased in 2007 and christened "Dove One."
On November 6, 2007, United States Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced an investigation of Hinn's ministry by the United States Senate Committee on Finance. In a letter to BHM, Grassley asked for the ministry to divulge financial information to the Senate Committee on Finance to determine if Hinn made any personal profit from financial donations, and requested that Hinn's ministry make the information available by December 6, 2007.
The investigation also scrutinized five other televangelists: Paula White, Kenneth Copeland, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, and Creflo Dollar. On December 6, 2007, Hinn told the Associated Press that he would not respond to the inquiry until 2008.
Hinn's ministry has since responded to the inquiry, and Senator Grassley commented that, "... Benny Hinn [has] engaged in open and honest dialogue with committee staff. They have not only provided responses to every question but, in the spirit of true cooperation, also have provided information over and above what was requested."
Hinn's statements concerning the Trinity have also diverged sharply from orthodox Christian teachings. He has expressed the view that each member of the Trinity is himself a Trinity, therefore God has nine persons, and that both the Father and the Holy Spirit have physical bodies.
Hinn married Suzanne Harthern on August 4, 1979. The couple have four children together. Harthern filed papers in Orange County (California) Superior Court on February 1, 2010, seeking a divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences."
In May 2012, Hinn announced that he and his wife have begun reconciliation, and he claimed that the split came about because of his wife's addiction to prescription drugs. Hinn announced that he and his former wife, Suzanne, will remarry in October 2012. Benny Hinn remarried his former wife Suzanne on Sunday, March 3, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.
In July 2010, both Hinn and fellow televangelist Paula White denied allegations in the National Enquirer claiming that the two were engaged in an affair. In February 2011, Hinn was sued by the Christian publishing house Strang Communications, which claimed that a relationship with White did occur and that Hinn had violated the morality clause of his contract with the company.
- "Benny Hinn." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.