Selling Salvation?

Many put faith in a faith healer who says he has the answer to your prayers.

ByABC News
May 11, 2007, 12:08 PM

May 11, 2007 — -- Through the haze of late-night insomniac television viewing, the Rev. Peter Popoff's weekly program may, at first glance, appear to be just another get-rich-quick infomercial. Testimonials roll by from people who gleefully tell of receiving thousands of dollars in cash, new cars, and even houses. But when the raucous miracles begin, it becomes clear that this is much more than an infomercial a faith healer is at work.

An energetic announcer promises that "God can reverse every negative verdict in your life." And the star of the show, Popoff, pronounces that he has the key to success and healing: a small plastic packet filled with miracle spring water. He'll mail it to you free of charge, and promises that if you send away for the water, you'll receive "miracle release, miracle money, miracle healing, and miracle deliverance in your life" as a result.

A miracle was exactly what Carol Bercier felt that she needed. In 2001, both of her sons had been diagnosed with serious illnesses and she was desperate for help. When Bercier came across Popoff's television ministry, she said she was quickly drawn to him. "I saw him talking to me, straight to me, like he was, he was just telling me exactly what I was going through," she said. "So, of course, I called, I called right away."

Bercier said she soon received her miracle water in the mail, along with a letter from Popoff. "20/20" obtained a similar letter, which claims the miracle water comes from a Russian spring that, after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, had actually protected those who drank from it.

The letter goes on to say that this same spring water can miraculously protect the faithful today, and help them prosper financially all they have to do is follow God's instructions precisely. Popoff strongly reminds viewers of his program about that, repeatedly warning, "Don't drink the water until you follow the divine leading and direction."