A chapter from the book Modern Divine Healing by Waymon D. Miller, published in 1956.
One of the most celebrated of contemporary faith healers is the American evangelist, William Branham. Branham testifies that an angel appeared to him to divinely call him to a healing career. He also claims to be an inspired prophet, and requires his patients to believe in him as such. During the latter part of 1951 the Branham party visited South Africa and staged enormous healing campaigns in several of the larger cities.
During the most of his campaigns but little data was released to the public on specific case histories, so that it was not possible to make very thorough investigation of the results that were claimed. I personally attended two services of Branham’s Johannesburg campaign, but names and addresses of patients were not revealed, so no investigation could be made here on the claimed healings.
Through the kindness of a Baptist minister, however, some interesting data was obtained on Branham’s campaign in Durban. This minister attended four out of five of the evening meetings, and in each instance sat quite near the Branham party so that procedures could be carefully observed. The news editor of a Durban paper made available to him a list of claimed cures that were released to the press, and he personally investigated these cases, some individuals of whom he knew personally. In a letter to me this minister revealed his findings in these cases, and contrasted them with the pretentious claims of miracles made in their behalf. We quote these observations from the letter:
Mrs N., a woman of about forty-five “miraculously” arose from her bed and walked away during the first meeting. There were flashlight photos of her in the morning paper. Her husband was said to be amazed. But a little investigation showed me: (1) That she was suffering from menopausal disturbances, which laid her low for a day or two, then left her normal possibly for a week or more. The paper said she had been “bedridden for ten months.” This was also proved to be false. (2) Her own doctor told me she was by no means bedridden. (3) An elder of her church had visited her four days previous to her healing, and she had entertained him to tea. (4) Neighbors said they had seen her walking about. No denial of the false statement ever appeared in the press, either by her or by the church which sponsored this campaign.
T. B. cases. I personally interviewed the assistant Medical Superintendent of a well-known T. B. hospital here. More than twenty cases of those attending the campaign claimed to be cured. I knew several personally. He stated that the X-ray showed no change in lung structure, but added, “Of course it is theoretically possible for the disease to have been eradicated from the body, in which case the residual damage to lungs would remain. But if this is so we shall know within a week or two by means of tests.” No such evidence has since been forthcoming. He told me that several were considerably worse for having gone. Excitement had induced hemorrhages in several instances. Cases of T. B. complicated with diabetes were considerably worse, he said, as shown by sugar tests.
Of these twenty T. B. cases no less than six were unshaken by the X-ray evidence, and still believed themselves either cured or on the way to it. I walked into one ward and one patient, J. A., said to me, “We’re all cured here.” The same patient has since discharged himself at his own responsibility. So has one other of the six, but I know him quite well, and he is at home, unable to work, and far from cured.
Mrs. A. S., a heart case for twenty-four years; in and out of the hospital, and really a chronic case it seems. She was “cured” the first night, attending every subsequent meeting, climbing stairs, amazing her family, sleeping normally. Her case was specially mentioned as one of the most astonishing proofs of divine healing. The detailed report of her healing appeared in the paper a week or so after the campaign’s conclusion. The roving reporter had written it some days earlier. Unfortunately I had spotted a funeral notice of the same name the day before the cure notice appeared! I rang the news editor and asked, “Did you know that this lady whom you have written up as a wonderful cure died yesterday?” “Yes,” he said, “I just discovered it.”
Dr. M. P., twenty-three years old, was a houseman at Addington Hospital. As a medical student he had leukemia, but bravely carried on his studies. He knew he was doomed, in the human sense, but showed amazing pluck. I was there when Branham dramatically singled him out and said, “Cancer of the blood! You are cured!” It was dramatic in a big way. But I suspected that Branham knew all along that he was in the audience near the front, for he was a hospital case, and a doctor besides, many others knew of his presence. Well, Dr. P. went back to the hospital, discharged himself next morning, strongly against the advice of the Medical Superintendent, went to his home at Shepstone, seemed well for twelve hours, got sick again, and was dead in less than a month.
But this is not the worst. An American paper contained an article by Bosworth on the Durban campaign. In it Bosworth cites this wonderful cure, adding that the hospital staff examined him next day and found his blood entirely free from cancer, whereas exactly the opposite was the case! The medical staff thought him foolish to leave, said there was no change in his blood condition, and they were proved right. The same Bosworth article mentioned crowds of 80,000 to 100,000 at Greyville race-course, whereas its utmost capacity is just over twenty thousand. Of course his friends in the States would not know any better on this point, and they would swallow it as it stands.
The A. family, well known to me, members of my church. No less than four of this large family claimed cures; the mother from arthritis, a daughter from some purely imaginary complaint, a little boy from a deficiency of red corpuscles, and so on. I have often visited this family. None of them appears to be any different from before. Mind you, the mother claims to be wonderfully improved, but she is just as she was before to outward appearance: shuffles about, and has pain in her joints. Two other members of this family who were not in this business, but who are Christian believers, tell me that they see no change in their mother, their little brother, or in their sister. Yet this family is quoted as the one family that has benefitted most by the campaign.
And so it continues right through forty-six cases. I have not made any check lately, i.e., within the last two months, but the evidence before me is such that I can come to no other conclusion than that the cures claimed are so largely exaggerated as to be almost fraudulent in their claim.
Reference is made in this letter to misrepresentations by F. F. Bosworth, an assistant to Branham in his South African campaigns, in an American paper. Before me is a copy of the Herald of His Coming, February 1952, a religious journal published at Los Angeles, in which is a front-page article by Bosworth on the South African campaigns. This article, entitled “God’s Visitation to South Africa,” contain these contested statements.
Concerning the young doctor “healed” of leukemia, Bosworth writes: “In one service Brother Branham pointed to a doctor by the name of Michael Plaff, brought there from the Addington Hospital very ill with leukemia, and said, “You are healed of leukemia.” They examined him at the hospital the next morning and found his blood entirely free from leukemia (cancer of the blood). The whole hospital was stirred and it was the topic of conversation there yesterday.” But this young doctor had been dead two months when this report from Bosworth was printed!
Relative to the number attending the healing services at the Greyville racecourse, Bosworth stated in the same article: “The meetings in the race course cannot be described. Some estimated the crowd in the 10:30 a.m. meeting to be from 80,000 to 100,000. The same number were present in the 2:30 p.m. meeting and again that night. I can hardly believe during the day I spoke to 200,000 people.” Neither can this Baptist minister, who lives in Durban, believe Bosworth “spoke to 200,000 people” in these services at the racecourse when “its utmost capacity is just over twenty thousand”!
When such misleading, distended, exaggerated reports are circulated of the results of such healing campaigns, it is no wonder that many, like this prominent Baptist minister, “can come to no other conclusion than that the cures claimed are so largely exaggerated as to be almost fraudulent.”