Screen grab via nbcnews.com
By William M. London
On December 22nd, NBC Nightly News (United States) devoted two minutes thirty-five seconds (nine percent of its broadcast) to telling its human interest story headlined on its Web site as “Power of Prayer? ‘Miracle’ Priest Rises from Wheelchair and Walks.” A transcript of the segment titled “Does the Power of Prayer Have a Place in Medicine?” is available on a companion site for educating elementary and secondary school children.
Anchorman Brian Williams, shown onscreen with the words “Power of Prayer” (not followed by a question mark) as the backdrop, introduced the segment: “When you consider the news we’ve been covering and the time of the year, this segment couldn’t be more timely. It’s about the growing medical evidence of the power of prayer to heal body and soul.”
I guess the producers of NBC Nightly News concluded that Christmas is a suitable time to offer the kind of miracle mongering frequently seen on “The Dr. Oz Show” and that Montel Williams used to offer on his show. When you don’t have a well-documented birth of a human from a virgin mother to present to viewers, you have to lower your standards for what you can offer miracle-seeking viewers.
Williams turned it over to NBC’s senior legal and investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden, who presented a testimonial by Father John Murray, a Catholic priest of Brooklyn, New York, attesting to the miracle healing power of his prayers and other people’s prayers. His claim of “proof” of a miracle, in his words “without a doubt,” boils down to:
- Four years ago, he broke his neck from a fall and bone chips sliced into his spinal cord. (We are not told what part of his spinal cord was injured.)
- He was paralyzed from his chest down.
- Doctors told him he would never walk again. “‘You should expect no voluntary movement,’” said Murray. “That’s a quote. ‘No voluntary movement for the rest of your life.’”
- “But within a year and a half after he tripped on a Jersey Shore boardwalk, the priest was able to rise from his wheelchair and walk.”
McFadden didn’t discuss Murray’s injury in an epidemiological perspective in either her short video segment or her article written with Jake Whitman that accompanies the video online. I was available to help them, but they never called.
Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.