Benny Hinn: 'I Would Not Do This for Money'


Miraculous cures for cancer and AIDS, people in wheelchairs getting up and dancing. It's business as usual for Benny Hinn, perhaps the world's most famous, successful and controversial televangelist. Hinn is a faith-healer who almost never grants interviews -- until now.

"I'll try to explain it to you," said Hinn in a wide-ranging interview with ABC's "Nightline." "The anointing, which is God's power, comes on me. ... I can actually feel it. And people start getting healed. 'From the cancer, the pain is gone. ... I was sitting on my wheelchair and I can walk now,' such things like that."

Benny Hinn

Hinn took questions about disillusioned followers and about the U.S. senator who is investigating him. The questions clearly dismayed Hinn's handlers.

He was born Toukif Benedictus Hinn to a Greek Orthodox Christian family living in Israel. As a child, he moved with his family to Canada, where he became an extremely devout evangelical. In his 20's, Hinn moved to Florida, where he married a preacher's daughter -- and then went into the family business.

Hinn said he realized early on that something extraordinary was happening.

VIDEO:Benny Hinn: Snake Charmer or Healer?

"In fact, I was shocked, really I was, when people came up to me claiming they were healed back in the 70s," he said. "And the crowds grew. Uh to, goodness, we would have 2,000 or 3,000 show up on Monday nights. And then the word spread."

Hinn's ministry exploded. Within a few years, he was traveling the world, preaching to millions of people. In the early '90s, he started a television show, which now airs in more than 200 countries. Along the way, he has made a series of truly extraordinary claims.

In one video clip on YouTube, he said he had seen a dead man resurrected.

"Well, Ghana. It was in Akra, Ghana," Hinn explained to "Nightline." "I didn't exactly ... I had no proof he was dead. That's what they told me. They laid him on the platform, and at one point he got up. But that's not the question, the question is, can God raise the dead? Yes or no? And the answer is yes. He has. It's in the Bible, so if God did it then, why shouldn't he do it today?"

'I Would Not Do This for Money'

Benny Hinn now controls an empire. His ministry collects an estimated $100 million a year in donations from people whom Hinn has convinced that God heals through him.

"Nightline" asked Hinn directly if he isn't taking advantage of people who are profoundly religious, and vulnerable because they're in physical pain, for his own personal enrichment.

"I'm glad you're asking," Hinn said. "Let me tell you something. I would not do this for money. If people think I would do this for money, after all the misery I've had to go through..."

"What misery?" I asked Hinn.

"Oh dear God, what misery? You name it. You're a human being like me, how would you like to be called all those names. Who wants that? What you're asking is am I using the so-called lie, that healings really happen so I can make money?

"Of course not. You cannot fool all the people all the time, right? ... "I will tell you this. I think that if I was fooling the people over 35 years of it now, I would be caught already fooling them."

Hinn admits he doesn't have medical verification of any of the healings. In fact, some of his supposed healings have turned out not to have been real.

At a 2001 Hinn crusade, William Vandenkolk, a 9-year-old with damaged vision, claimed that his eyesight had been restored.

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