Benny Hinn: Canada's Most Famous Televangelist
Broadcasting to nearly 200 countries worldwide and preaching nightly to live audiences of up to a million people, Benny Hinn has reached the pinnacle of North American televangelism. His miracle crusades are considered the most successful - and controversial - of the Charismatic Christian crusades.
Born in Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv, Hinn emigrated to Canada with his family as a teenager, and attended high school in Toronto. He has at various times claimed to be Arab by birth, Greek, and in one sermon, an Israeli-born Jew. There are a number of versions of Hinn's personal mythology - honed through several best-selling books he has authored, and added to in his long preaching career.
Hinn became a charismatic Christian in 1972, and although he never acquired any formal theological training, he was soon holding weekly healing meetings in the Toronto area. In the early 1980s, he moved to Florida and began preaching out of the World Outreach Church in Orlando. His daily television ministry began in 1990 on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world's largest Christian network. His daily half-hour television program "This is Your Day" airs several times a day on TBN and is watched in hundreds of millions of homes around the world. Recently, Hinn has branched out from North America and Europe and his worldwide crusades now include stops in places like Guatemala, the Philippines, Malaysia and Ghana.
Hinn's enormous success as a televangelist is due in part to his spectacular onstage presence. Dressed in a milk-white suit, his diamond rings flashing, he strides about the stage invoking the miraculous.He claims his jacket is imbued with the Holy Spirit, and he regularly flicks it at his followers, many of who claim the act has rid them of life-threatening diseases. In response to Hinn's touch or gesture, the newly healed collapse, "slain in the Spirit."
Hinn has come under criticism for saying "anything that comes into his head" during his preaching. He has been known to claim that "God had intended babies to come from the sides of women's bodies, as the rib that created woman had come out of the side of Adam. But then, God changed his mind. And since God gave Adam dominion over the birds Adam could fly and was, in fact, a superman and the first man to reach the moon."
Hinn's ministry has been scrutinized by a small but intense army of Christian critics affiliated with "anti-cult" organizations in the United States. The most prominent of these is the Christian Research Institute (CRI) who has taken issue with Hinn's interpretation of the scriptures. Another group called the Watchman Fellowship, have followed Hinn's ministry ever since Hinn delivered a sermon claiming that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that God would destroy the American homosexual community by 1995; that after the Christians were "home" a woman would be president and destroy the nation.
Benny Hinn has also been criticized for his "peddling of false hope". At each service, when the donation pledges are distributed, the desparate are encouraged to see their donation as a way out of their suffering. The exact earnings of the Benny Hinn ministry are not known.