January 2, 2007
Of miracles and malignancy
And money. Lots and lots of money:
Darlene Bishop, the nationally renowned evangelical preacher, begins her book about how God cured the cancer afflicting one of her brothers with a Biblical verse: “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.”
The book, “Your Life Follows Your Words,” is sold in the gift shop of Solid Rock Church, the 4,000-
member congregation in Monroe, Ohio, where Ms. Bishop is a co-pastor. She has promoted it on her television show, “Sisters,” which is modeled after ABC’s “The View” and is broadcast on four cable networks nationwide.
On her Web site, Ms. Bishop promises that the book reveals “how God healed her of breast cancer” and a brother of throat cancer.
Nowhere, though, does she mention, that the brother, Darrell Perry, a successful country music songwriter whom everyone called Wayne, died from the cancer a year and a half ago.
In a sworn deposition responding to two lawsuits filed by Mr. Perry’s four children, Ms. Bishop stated that no doctor ever diagnosed the breast cancer she referred to prominently in her book. Instead, Ms. Bishop testified, she thought that she had cancer in 1986 and that it was cured.
“She’s lying to people and exploiting my father for her own financial gain,” Mr. Perry’s eldest son, Bryan Perry, 36, said in an interview.
… Wayne Perry fathered four children with three women, two of whom he married, his sons said. He abandoned his family when Bryan was 2 to pursue his songwriting career, which produced such hits as “A Woman’s Touch,” recorded by Mr. Keith, and “Not a Moment Too Soon,” by Mr. McGraw. He earned millions of dollars, said a music industry lawyer, Rush Hicks, who is advising the children.
… According to Ms. Bishop’s book, when her brother arrived at her front door, he confirmed that he had cancer, and she replied, “Let that be the last time those words ever come from your mouth.”
In her deposition, Ms. Bishop said Mr. Perry had decided on his own to disregard doctors’ advice that he immediately begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments. But Mr. Perry’s children contend that their aunt persuaded him to forgo medical treatment and rely on a process of faith healing that, Ms. Bishop wrote in her book, God had explained to her in a revelation.
… As his throat tumors swelled to the size of tennis balls, Mr. Perry stopped eating, Mr. Jones said. His weight dropped to 84 pounds. He did consent to chemotherapy, Mr. Jones said, but only after the tumors had restricted his breathing to the point that he collapsed. The chemotherapy shrank the tumors, Mr. Jones said, and his father began eating again.
In her book, Ms. Bishop describes her brother’s spiritual awakening and the improvement in his condition, but she does not mention his chemotherapy.
… On Oct. 13, 2004, an oncologist, Dr. Albert Malcolm, wrote a letter telling Mr. Perry that his cancer was terminal. Mr. Perry forwarded the letter to Janet Perry-McCormick, his former wife, after writing across the top, “Destroy this letter after you read it,” and, “Only you and Darlene know this.”
The note is proof that Ms. Bishop knew her brother was dying but concealed it from the public while continuing to promote her book, Mr. Perry’s children said in interviews, but in her deposition, Ms. Bishop said she learned of Dr. Malcolm’s diagnosis after Mr. Perry died in May 2005.
… One point on which both sides agree is that Mr. Perry died believing he had been healed by God.
Savor that last line for a moment.
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