Centre For Inquiry Sneaks Into Peter Popoff ‘Faith-Healing’ Event and Gets Damning Footage June 9, 2011

Centre For Inquiry Sneaks Into Peter Popoff ‘Faith-Healing’ Event and Gets Damning Footage

Con artist and “faith healer” Peter Popoff has been debunked by James Randi before:

Popoff is one of those guys who disappears for a little while after an incident like that — when he’s called out on his bullshit — and then comes right back to pick up where he left off. (There’s money to be had! Why leave for good?)

So when the folks at Centre for Inquiry Canada got 4 tickets from a secret source to an invite-only Popoff faith-healing Revival-o-Jesus, you knew they were going to be prepared:

Coached by Randi himself… we discussed the use of hidden cameras, how to maximize the effect of passing out critical thinking literature, and what to expect from Popoff supporters who would attemp to acquire information from the audience in advance of the show. Randi engaged with us for a half hour, during much of which he was somewhow simultaneously driving through the streets in rush hour.

The end result? It’s in this video:

While there’s no “smoking gun,” there are some despicable things seen on there, the least of which is Popoff asking each audience member to give him $1,000.

The worst moment in my mind occurs at the 5:42 mark when one man is turned away by Popoff’s people. Probably because he’s too sick to be “cured” and that would make for bad PR.

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  • Mej

    I’ve heard Popoff’s Miracle Spring Water is actually just a cleverly relabeled homeopathic remedy. Or was it the other way round?

  • Alice


  • Baconsbud

    I doubt anyone can stop these types of people from taking advantage of others. I have known a few people who would spend large amounts of money because there was a very slim chance that their illness might be cured. They were living in pain and wanted it to end. Desperate people wanting to end their pain will believe most anything.

  • Mother fucking fuckers!

    That’s about as bad as what a friend of my family just went through recently – had cancer and so went to a ‘health therapist’ to get it treated. She was given citric acid injections, at four hundred dollars a pop, three times a week.
    She didn’t go back to her regular (real) doctor until her money ran out.

    Whether it’s religion or some other form of charlatanism, these people are fuckers.

  • Claudia

    The scene with the sick old man being turned away, obviously confused and hurt because “they won’t heal me” makes me wish there was a Hell for Popoff to be in. You heartless, exploitative motherfucker.

  • Blake

    I didn’t hear him ask for any specific amount of money. Where did they get this $1,000 claim?

  • These sort of stories are very depressing and make you dwell on many broad reaching societal problems. Many religious folks can see through this sort of thing and think it is a problem with individuals — I just wish they’d realize it’s a problem with the infrastructure of religion itself.

  • SWare

    Sickest individual in that room…no doubt is Peter Popoff. This seriously turns my stomach.

    My mother has been suffering through heart disease, is running out of options and mentioned this John of god guyt to me once. I don’t recall my response to her entirely but know that I asked her lots of skeptical questions about him. That alone seemed to back her down from trying to pursue such “treatment”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPLQ08ROO1g&feature=related If her religious friends or the rest of my family choose to pray for her, that is fine. I just don’t want to see her fork over any funds what so ever to pursuing these sorts of quacks. Even if they do not ask for money does it not give them unjustified “power” over people to come off “god” like?

  • ludovico

    Screw the miracle spring water, I’m gettin’ me some of that Miracle Hair Dye!

  • “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

    Maybe his followers are too stupid to worry about?

  • Man, I gots to get me some of that miracle water!

    Was I mistaken or did I see Blacksheep in the overflow section? 😉

  • michelle

    Blake Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 8:23 am
    I didn’t hear him ask for any specific amount of money. Where did they get this $1,000 claim?

    That’s what I’m thinking. It was very sad and powerful when they showed the man being turned away. However, everything else was just told to us – even the man’s reaction. I KNOW Popoff is a crook, but there is nothing in this video, no “smoking gun” as it were, to disuade someone who supports him. There was too much telling and not enough showing. If they had video and each person was wearing a recorder, why couldn’t they show us each of these things rather than coolly telling us about them. Narration is great for back story, but let the video speak for itself.

  • Karl

    Let’s see him heal an amputation.

    I note that this month’s Discover magazine has an article on scientists who are working on ways to regrow missing tissue, perhaps eventually including limbs. Science is succeeding where the faith healers are faking.

  • SKL

    Blake Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 8:23 am
    “I didn’t hear him ask for any specific amount of money. Where did they get this $1,000 claim?”

    I was filming the event and I did miss a few things that ALL of us present heard and decided to narrate. It was a difficult situation as security were watching constantly and I had to shoot in quick sessions. At first I was very careful as not wanting to get thrown out right away. If that happened there would be NO video. The lady beside me kept threatening me that she was going to call security – so there was some stress. Near the end, I got bold and got caught(Popoff himself saw me and after that I was toast). In fact the freeze frame at the end of the video is him looking at me – after that security was buzzing, they were all over us. Even so, we did try to get to Popoff to question him -perhaps that is why he took off so fast. That is also why I could not film the “cancer threat”. There were a number of audience members who were present during this threat and were stunned. Under the circumstances we did our best.

  • michelle

    @ SKL
    I looked back over my comment and realized it sounded pretty critical. I didn’t mean to be that way at all. I understand the difficulty of the situation you were in. I guess I was more just frustrated that if I were to show that video to my parents (pastors of a faith healing church), they, and anyone else from the church, would be able to say “They’re just making that part up. Where’s the proof?” I, as a skeptic, am constantly posing that question to them. I like to be able to provide proof for things that I assert. I believe you, I just wish there was something there that could be used to change the mind of people who currently DON’T believe you. I get so tired of Christians who believe in this stuff turning it into a he-said/she-said type thing when it is anything but. I guess that’s why the tickets are so hard to get!

  • Ron in Houston

    If it weren’t friggin religion that a$$hole would probably be headed to jail.

    Damn, I’m a bit testy today, huh?

  • SKL

    @ SKL
    “I looked back over my comment and realized it sounded pretty critical”.

    Michelle, no criticism taken. I thought I would explain the real time situation. I wished I had gotten more on camera. I may look at the out takes to see – although I did get a lot of my shoes or inside my jacket as I hid the camera quite a bit:) The scene with the old,sick man, by the hand movements and look on his face speaks volumes though. It was upsetting to experience that.

  • tinker

    I think that Popoff guy sold me a Pinto 20 years ago. If not, he sure does remind me of a sleazy used car salesman.

  • Larry Meredith

    that was kinda lame… none of the good parts they spoke of were caught on tape. The old man saying “they won’t let me be healed. why?” or lee’s wife saying “don’t even talk to him, he’s a lunatic” or the organist saying “I hope you die of cancer.” None of that was actually caught on audio or video. What is the point in getting all prepped with hidden cameras (that Randi instructed them to keep on at all times) if they aren’t going to catch the important moments?

  • Whitney

    Yeah this guy is a crook…but he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing if he weren’t supported by the idiotic masses. Anyone who forks over thousands of dollars to one of these a**holes deserves exactly what they get.

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