Faith Whatting?

They’re getting closer…and closer…and closer.

They’ve reached Cleveland, for instance.

The Cleveland health education museum will open its doors to faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh on July 10, creating an unusual venue for a purported miracle healing service. HealthSpace Cleveland waived the customary $5,000 rental fee for Nemeh, said Patricia Horvath, the executive director. “We decided not to charge them because a number of board members are supporters of Dr. Nemeh’s work,” Horvath said. “We see spiritual health in the holistic view of overall health,” she said.

The Cleveland what education museum? The Cleveland health what museum? The Cleveland health education what? Don’t you mean the Cleveland bide-a-wee home for bullshitters? The Cleveland theatre of wooerpgahwackawacka? The Cleveland we are all out of our minds and happy about it institute?

The Plain Dealer reported earlier this month that Nemeh’s method of acupuncture requires only a five-day training course and uses a device not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for clinical safety or effectiveness. The paper also reported that Nemeh had sued after being kicked out of a medical residency program at Fairview Hospital…Nemeh and his wife, Cathy, who lays hands on the sick with her husband, have declined to be interviewed.

Gee, I wonder why.

Well at least there’s a refuge, of sorts. Well not a refuge – because it’s a summer camp – and if you’ve ever been to a summer camp, especially the kind where you have to actually live there and don’t get to go home after half an hour or so, you’ll know that they’re not what you’d call refuges. More like hell on earth, is what they are. But anyway, if you have to go to summer camp (how ecstatically happy I am that that is one possibility that simply cannot arise in my life, not unless the zealots take over completely and send people like me off to be re-educated, in which case I have a plan to escape to the still-vex’d Bermoothes) then it’s better to go to one where the Christians won’t insist on telling you that you’re friends with the devil. That kind of thing palls after awhile.

Many of the two dozen campers who attended this year’s session last week recounted experiences of being called names and otherwise harassed. For instance, Travis Leepers, 17, from Louisiana, reported that just about everyone he knows has expressed concern to him about his soul and has tried to convert him. Sophia Riehemann, 14, from Bellevue, Ky., recalled how one of her schoolmates called her a devil-worshiper. “People get really confused sometimes,” Sophia said. “They think that if we don’t believe in God we believe in the devil.”

Even the New York Times seems to find the whole thing a little suspicious – and they’re not even in Kentucky or Louisiana.

Nearly two million American adults openly identify themselves as atheist or agnostic, according to a 2001 survey by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Openly! Right out there in the open! Where puppies and butterflies and little innocent children can hear them – they come right out and say they’re atheist or agnostic. You know, I really thought that kind of thing had been made illegal by this time.

Does the Times think people should only say that kind of thing behind closed doors with a hood over their heads and a note of deep shame in their voices, or what? Oh, never mind. I think I’ll amble over to the local science museum for some faith healing and attitude-adjustment.

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