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Christians consider expelling 'miracle' preacher

THE EVANGELICAL Alliance, which represents one million British Christians, is considering whether to expel Morris Cerullo, an American preacher who starts a week of shows to packed houses at Earls Court in London tonight in which he will claim that miracles are occurring nightly.

Prominent evangelicals have described Mr Cerullo's fund-raising letters as 'absolutely disgusting' and 'spiritually perverted and pastorally disastrous'. His claims of miraculous healing have also been considerably toned down in the absence of supporting evidence.

In February this year, Mr Cerullo sent his supporters a letter promising them 'supernatural deliverance from debt', if they would only send him pounds 30 instead of their normal pounds 15 a month. The previous year, he offered to save his supporters' relations from eternal damnation for just pounds 5 a head. The money was to be spent on pamphlets for evangelising Jews in Israel, which Mr Cerullo believes is a necessary preliminary to the Second Coming.

Mr Cerullo has also been widely criticised by other Christians for claiming wholesale miraculous healings at his meetings. Last year, for example, his organisation claimed there had been 2,250 miracles during one visit to London. Outside observers, including a panel of Christian doctors, were unable to verify even one.

A spokesman for the Evangelical Alliance, Keith Ewing, said yesterday: 'We have to review his membership because . . . there have been so many complaints from our other members about fundraising that lacks theological integrity, and about the over-emphasis of the supernatural over the other elements of his ministry.'

The Evangelical Alliance has only ever once expelled a member organisation: a Baptist Church which re-invented itself as the 'Jesus Army' and was accused of cult-like behaviour. Membership of the Alliance is open to anyone who subscribes to a statement of orthodox belief. Mr Cerullo, who subscribes to this, is a member on an individual basis.

Christians within the Alliance embarrassed by Mr Cerullo say that his membership has enabled them to moderate his excessive claims. In fact, Evangelical attitudes to him are split largely on racial lines. Mr Cerullo's rallies are probably the largest gatherings of black Christians in this country.