Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Whatever one’s conception of “God” is, “John of God” should now be a nauseating name. For decades, João Teixeira de Faria pretended to heal an endless stream of pilgrims to his center in rural central Brazil through the Spiritist practice of “psychic surgery.” In reality, the miracle healing claims worked to cover up an obvious truth. João was sexually assaulting and raping women, in public and in private, likely every day of his “working” life. As he did so, he amassed a vast fortune in affiliate businesses, farming operations, real estate, referral rackets, and sales of crystals and fake remedies.
In this episode we won’t retell this history, now poignantly captured by a new Brazilian-made documentary on Netflix. Instead, we’ll look at how lazy and motivated journalism shook hands with the entrepreneurial New Age to validate and accelerate the absurd claims of a monster. In addition to original reporting on how João made his mark in the U.S., Matthew is joined by former New Age publicist Lisa Braun Dubbels and Brazilian journalist Mirna Wabi Sabi to discuss the globalization of magic and abuse.
Trigger warnings for this episode: rape, sexual assault, fraud, spiritual abuse.