John of God: The Crimes of a Spiritual Healer is a series of 4 episodes, each 50 minutes, released on Netflix in mid-July, 2021. It documents the life story, the healing work that put John Teixera de Faria in the limelight internationally, and the shadows lurking behind that light. The original film, made in Brazil, is in Portuguese and now has subtitles in English. Click for trailer—only in Portuguese.
This new film graciously reveals the extent of the healing that took place over decades, as well as illustrating in graphic terms how some women, possibly 100s, were seduced and abused behind the scenes. The abused women they interviewed in the film all tell similar stories of how they went to John for healing, were invited alone into his private office, and they each echoed the words John used to manipulate them. The most terrible story of abuse is told by John’s daughter, Dalva Teixera, as she began to be physically and sexually abused by John when she was 9 years old.
This film introduces viewers to the lawyers who represented John as well as the prosecutors representing the state where he has been convicted of fraud, owning unregistered guns, and sexual abuses. The viewer sees old footage of John at the height of his power, and now in July, 2021, 79 years old, isolated in his home with an electronic bracelet around his ankle (instead of in state prison), still avowing that he is innocent, and likening himself to Christ who was crucified. As of late August, 2021, he has been returned to state prison to be held there for 63+years.
We are challenged to accept the idea that this man could be an exceptional healer and simultaneously be violating women and extracting payments from people in the circle of his influence, e.g. taxi drivers bringing patients to the center, inn keepers housing them, etc. And, how did the abuses escape being seen—when John’s inner circle included powerful mediums? This is a story that will be of interest to anyone wanting to understand the challenges of being a guru figure, the challenges of being successful as a healer, and the downfall of John Teixera, in particular.
Perhaps the lesson to be learned is: one who holds a very bright light may also produce a very long shadow that is difficult to perceive. Open your mind…but don’t let your brain fall out. Spiritual healing can be powerful and positive but that doesn’t mean the person effecting the healing has earned the position of “Guru”. He/she might be a very fallible human being.
Emma Bragdon, PhD, is the Executive Director of Integrative Mental Health for You, IMHU.org. She first visited John’s center in 2001. A university professor she met there was the first person to tell her about Spiritism. She went on to study Spiritism in depth, visiting centers all over Brazil. She has since published two books about Spiritism and co-produced a documentary film about Spiritism. John Teixera’s center in Abadiania is “Spiritualist”, she says, not “Spiritist”–as the film’s subtitles relay. Dr. Bragdon and her Brazilian associates who are MDs teach a 7-day seminar on location in Brazil about Spiritist Therapies.