Faith healing

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Faith healing is the belief that religious faith can bring about healing—either through prayers or rituals that, according to adherents, evoke a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or healing is related to religious belief.[1] In common usage, "faith healing" refers to notably overt and ritualistic practices of communal prayer and gestures (such as laying on of hands) that are claimed to solicit divine intervention in initiating spiritual and literal healing.

Claims that prayer, divine intervention, or the ministrations of an individual healer can cure illness have been popular throughout history.[2] Miraculous recoveries have been attributed to many techniques commonly lumped together as "faith healing." It can involve prayer, a visit to a religious shrine, or simply a strong belief in a supreme being.[3]

The term is best known in connection with Christianity.[citation needed] Some people[who?] interpret the Bible, especially the New Testament, as teaching belief in, and practice of, faith healing. There have been claims that faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, developmental disorders, anemia, arthritis, corns, defective speech, multiple sclerosis, skin rashes, total body paralysis, and various injuries.[3]

Unlike faith healing, advocates of spiritual healing make no attempt to seek divine intervention. The increased interest in alternative medicine at the end of the twentieth century has given rise to a parallel interest among sociologists in the relationship of religion to health.[1]

According to the American Cancer Society, although a small percentage of people with cancer have been known to experience remissions that cannot be explained by the scientific community, "available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments."[3] "Death, disability, and other unwanted outcomes have occurred when faith healing was elected instead of medical care for serious injuries or illnesses."[3]

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