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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > July August 2019 > The Not So Divine Acts of Medium ‘John of God’

The Not So Divine Acts of Medium ‘John of God’

John of God (João de Deus, real name João Teixeira de Faria) is a wellJ known Brazilian medium who claims to have healed several people through his spiritual surgeries. According to one John of God website, he “arguably the most powerful unconscious medium alive today and possibly the best-known healer of the past 2000 years.”

Medium John of God performs so-called “psychic surgery” while supposedly channeling the spirits of past doctors and saints.

John of God’s healing center is located in Abadiânia, a small town in Brazil’s central-west region that has a population of about 20,000. Opened in the 1970s, the healing center is named Casa Dom Inácio de Loyola. It is visited by about 2,000 people each week, including international travelers seeking John of God’s alleged healing skills. Part of his popularity might be explained by the fact that Brazil is the country where Spiritism has the largest number of followers. It was Chico Xavier, one of the most important Spiritism leaders in Brazil, who directed John of God to create his now-famous healing center.1

Several videos on YouTube show John of God performing spiritual (or “psychic”) surgeries in his healing center. He claims the surgeries are performed when he is channeling the spirits or entities of past doctors and saints. John of God’s repertoire of surgeries does not seem to vary much, from doing an incision with a scalpel in the abdominal skin to inserting forceps up the nose to superficially scraping the eye with a knife. Most people, if not all, wear white clothes. The surgeries are free of charge, as is attending the healing center. However, John of God also prescribes an herbal medicine that is only sold in his healing center’s pharmacy. Due to a high number of visitors, the tourism busi- ness in the city has largely expanded.

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