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Issue Date:  January 11, 2008

Prayer cures a Briton's legs, but not a bureaucracy

LONDON -- A British pastor’s wife who claims the power of prayer cured her injuries was told her disability benefits could not be stopped because the government’s computers didn’t have a “miracle” button.

The result, said June Clarke, of Plymouth, England, was that she received more than $7,000 that she didn’t even want -- and she could not get the government to take it back.

The 56-year-old woman spent six years in a wheelchair after she was injured in a fall on a slippery floor while at work. Her hip, pelvis and spine were badly damaged, and she had to give up her job when her condition worsened.

But Clarke says she was healed last January after her husband, Stuart Clarke, pastor at the Hooe Baptist Church in Plymouth, prayed every day that God would “bring my wife back.”

When she realized four months later that the cure appeared to be permanent, she asked the government to stop the disability payments because, she said, “I felt uncomfortable taking benefits when I didn’t need them.”

But when she contacted the benefits office, she said, she was told that its computers weren’t programmed to recognize an apparently miraculous recovery and that “we haven’t got a button to push that says ‘miracle.’ ”

June Clarke has now managed to get the monthly $1,200-plus benefits checks stopped -- although the government still won’t allow her to return the $7,000-plus that she had already received.

“It wasn’t ours to spend,” her husband insisted, and “it can’t be that often that a government gets a complaint about unwanted cash.”

She says she’s finally worked out an agreement with the benefits office under which she can work as a care provider to get the money back into government coffers.

-- Religion News Service

National Catholic Reporter, January 11, 2008

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