The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AFAW) is deeply concerned about the recent statement by the founder of the Living Faith Chapel, David Oyedepo, that he could lay hands and pray for COVID19 patients. His claim has the potential of undermining efforts to tackle and defeat this vicious virus. Oyedepo has reportedly said during his sermon on Saturday, August 29: "Can you imagine anyone bringing a coronavirus patient to me and I won’t lay hands on him? Will I wear gloves to lay hands on them?" Then he went further to state: “I will lay hands on them; breathe into them; embrace them. What you carry is eternal life. It’s not human life. You should know that”. Unfortunately, Oyedepo has made similar reckless remarks in the past. For instance, in June, this pentecostal preacher and witchcraft exorcist said that his church had recorded over 114 COVID19 healing testimonies. These faith healing claims fly in the face of facts and figures regarding the management and containment of COVID19 in Nigeria and beyond. The Nigerian health authorities should call Oyedepo to order. They should sanction him because Oyedepo is a pastor with an academic background in architecture, not a public health expert. Living Faith Chapel is a church, not a health institution.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the faith healing industry. And pentecostal pastors such as Bishop Oyedepo are desperate to get back into the business of mining the gullibility of Nigerians. The virus has succeeded in exposing the fakery and inefficacy of faith-healing practices. COVID19 is a global pandemic and a public health emergency that has no cure yet. There is no evidence that coronavirus patients could be healed through prayer or laying of hands. Instead, evidence abounds that such practices contribute to the spread of the infection. Some pastors reportedly contracted the virus and subsequently died after praying and laying hands on patients. So, Oyedepo's statement is a proposition that could lead to a spike in the infection, or death. AFAW urges members of the public to disregard this misleading and irresponsible proposition of Bishop Oyedepo and continue to follow the WHO evidence-based guidelines for the management of the pandemic.