A celebrity spiritualistic medium who became an international sensation in 2012 when Oprah Winfrey interviewed him for her talk show Super Soul Sunday is under arrest after over 500 women reported him to the Federal Prosecutors’ Office in Brazil, accusing him of sexual violence. Women, teenagers and even children — including his own daughter — are among the medium’s alleged victims. Former patients from across Brazil as well as the U.S., Germany, Netherlands and Australia have contacted the authorities.
The U.S. Embassy in Brazil put out an alert telling people to contact Brazilian authorities if they had suffered abuse at the hands of Joao Teixeira de Faria, 76.
Accusations against Faria surfaced last week when several women appeared on a Globo Television show claiming that he sexually abused them. Since the show, the number of female victims has been skyrocketing day by day.
In the wake of the sexual scandal, federal prosecutors are also investigating how his bank accounts have amassed extraordinary amounts of millions of dollars.
Faria had worked as a spiritualistic medium for the last four decades in Brazil under the nickname “João de Deus” (John of God). He became famous for conducting “psychic surgeries” that he said could cure diseases, including cancer.
The accusers include Faria’s adult daughter, Dalva Teixeira, who said that under the pretense of mystical treatments he abused and raped her between the ages of 10 and 14.
“My father is a monster,” she said.
Faria attracted desperate followers from around the world, all looking for spiritual guidance or cures for afflictions.
After interviewing him in 2012, Oprah Winfrey had written that she was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing him cut into the breast of a woman without anesthesia and that she left feeling “an overwhelming sense of peace.”
At the time, she told Brazilian media, “It was so strong that I had to sit down because I felt like I was going to pass out.”
After the massive scandal of sexual abuse, videos and articles related to Faria have been deleted from Oprah.com.
Many of Faria’s accusers say they were molested while children. A court dismissed a 2010 suit involving an alleged sexual molestation of a 16-year-old girl by Faria after his lawyers argued that there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.
How have all the cases gone unpunished for so long time? Spiritualistic mediums in Brazil manage a dark spiritual power that most people do not understand.
Bruce Douglas, a correspondent in Brazil for Bloomberg, said that when the Brazilian police interrogated Faria, strange things happened. He said, “A keyboard with a mind of its own; a short-circuit of an electrical cable and a mysterious road accident: a series of spooky events interrupts first police interrogation of John of God.”
It is understandable then the fear of victims to break their tortured silence to speak about sexual assaults by a man having so much dark spiritual power.
The same Brazilian left-wing press that shows no reluctance to denounce consistently sexual scandals of Catholic priests or Protestant ministers abusing one or two victims have shown a persistent and extraordinary reluctance to reveal the sexual scandals of a spiritualistic medium raping over 500 victims. In Brazil, spiritualistic mediums enjoy not only great spiritual power, but also great political power. Because many political and social authorities secretly meet them, they are specially protected.
Traditionally, even Brazilian Catholic presidents have consulted spiritualistic mediums and other occultists. The case of Faria is not different. Consulted by Brazilian presidents and lauded by international celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Faria established himself as Brazil’s pre-eminent “healer,” offering surgery to the sick guided only by dark spirits. The medium visited President Michel Temer in hospital last year, while former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sought his assistance during his treatment for cancer.
How has a spiritualistic medium become a celebrity in Brazil, the largest Catholic nation in the world?
The reality is that religious syncretism is widespread among Brazilian Catholics. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, more than 60% of the urban population of Brazil claims a Catholic affiliation. Yet, there is an overlay of Afro-Brazilian religions (like Candomblé, Quimbanda and Umbanda) with Catholic beliefs and practices, which many Catholic Brazilians do not find inconsistent with their faith.
Astrologers, spiritualistic mediums and psychics are immensely popular in Brazil. Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian esoteric author who is seen as a “mystic Catholic,” has several books published around the world, including in the United States. Even Bill Clinton, when he was the U.S. president, had his books as favorite reading. Coelho’s Facebook fanpage has about 30,000,000 followers.
Paulo Coelho is, by far, the greatest esoteric writer in Brazil. A small Google search delivers 23 million hits to his name.
The late Brazilian medium Chico Xavier delivers almost 6 million.
There are many other known Brazilian names involved in occultism, including self-proclaimed philosopher Olavo de Carvalho, who has been a self-exiled immigrant in the U.S. for over 13 years.
In 2017, the name of Carvalho, who was a famous astrologer in Brazil, delivered almost 800,000 hits on Google, but with the intense propaganda that the new president Jair Bolsonaro has been doing for him, the number shot to 2,800,000.
Today, the Facebook fanpage of astrologer Olavo has slightly over 500,000 followers, virtually the same number of fans of Walter Mercado, a Puerto Rican astrologer who became famous on Brazilian TV in the 1990s. The Facebook fanpage of the Puerto Rican has slightly over 500,000 followers.
Astrologers, spiritualistic mediums and psychics in Brazil have a history of meetings with prominent politicians and artists, who consult them for spiritual solutions.
No one knows the real number of adherents of spiritualism and occultism in Brazil and their numbers could be significantly higher than the official census figure, since many of them traditionally disguise their religion under “Roman Catholic” syncretism. This is the case of João Teixeira de Faria. He has an occult religion incompatible with Christianity, but under Catholic syncretism he is “John of God,” when his activities and beliefs have nothing to do with God and everything to do with Satan.
Brazilian Catholics are far more likely to believe in good luck charms, fortune-tellers, spiritualistic mediums and astrology than converts to Protestantism.
Protestantism, especially the charismatic variety, has resisted syncretism more than other Christian churches have in the diverse Brazil and it has established a significant presence in Brazil. Charismatic evangelicals proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, heal the sick and expel demons, in the name of Jesus. Their increasing presence is helping to break the spiritual bondage of spiritualistic mediums and other occultists, who are consulted and protected by presidents and officials, in the Brazilian society.
A large number of former spiritualistic mediums, who were delivered from demons, testify today that they found peace and salvation only through Jesus Christ, as proclaimed by charismatic evangelicals.
With information from the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Globo and Wikipedia.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.