The Presbyterian Church has welcomed a Home Office decision to ban a controversial revivalist healer — who claims he can cure people of illness by attacking them — from preaching in the UK.
Todd Bentley, a US-based healer, had been due to hold an event in Portadown next month as part of a UK tour. He had been invited to preach at The Christian Centre on Tandragee Road in the Co Armagh town.
Local clergy had raised concerns about his unorthodox methods — which include choking people, kicking them in the face and pushing them over.
The Home Office said that Bentley, a Canadian citizen, was subject to an exclusion order and would not be permitted entry to the UK.
“We can confirm Mr Bentley has been excluded from the UK,” a Home Office spokesman said.
“The Government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they’re not conducive to the public good.”
Internet clips show Mr Bentley kicking a polio-sufferer’s leg repeatedly while he asks the man if he feels himself being cured.
Other shots show Bentley, a 36-year-old former drug addict who at the age of 13 sexually assaulted a minor, hitting a man in the stomach with what he describes as his “Holy knee”.
The cleric, who is attached to the Fresh Fire Ministries Church in America, says during the footage that the Holy Spirit compels him to hit and kick those asking for his help.
A spokesman for the Presbyterian Church welcomed the Home Office decision to exclude the controversial preacher.
“The violent activities reported as part of Mr Bentley’s faith healing technique have no part whatsoever in our understanding of a loving, caring and compassionate ministry that is sought often by weak, frail and distressed people,” a Presbyterian spokesman said.
“The Home Office has a responsibilty to protect vulnerable people and in the light of what we know, is wise to respond in the way it has.”
The Belfast Telegraph attempted to contact Pastor George Elliott, who ministers at The Christian Centre. However, no-one was available for comment.