Miracle Mouths

Barry Schlachter's piece for the Knight Ridder News Service called the phenomena "divine dentistry." Thomas Novak, an actual dentist, was skeptical.

The revival in Weatherford, Texas, kept going at capacity for ten weeks, having commenced on September 26, 1999. One of the religious rally's major attractions was the miraculous claim of some of the participants that gold had manifested in their mouths. The golden items, thought to have been put there by God, were gold teeth, bridges, bands, crowns and plates.

And some dental work of other materials was upgraded to gold, claimed Rev. Don Connell of the New Life Community Church.

Charles Ford, a 57-year-old car salesman, prayed for his wife to get a mouthful of gold teeth -- even though there was nothing wrong with her mouth. Instead, he said, he got a gold tooth.

But Thomas Novak, a three-year resident of Weatherford, wondered why God would alter dental work to gold when He could just as easily have restored people's teeth. The dentist also wondered what cement God used to keep the gold work in.

The March 30, 1999 issue of Christian Week reported earlier cases elsewhere.

At the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF), in early March, over 300 people claimed to have gotten fillings of either gold or silver, or gold caps on their teeth.

At TACF's daughter church, the Eastgate Christian Fellowship in Hamilton, pastor Jim Paul claimed that his amalgam fillings changed to silver. Paul's dentist opined that something had polished Paul's teeth.

During the 1980s, Argentineans reportedly got miraculous gold fillings. TACF's senior pastor, John Arnott, had seen similar things in Mexico, and he and his wife had recently been to South Africa, where people prayed for gold teeth. According to Arnott's assistant, "it started happening everywhere" at the latter locale.

Robert Clark is a Toronto dentist and Christian Medical Dental Society member, and he, like Novak, is skeptical. He too wondered what God would be trying to prove.

Problems of credibility were always an issue. A scheduled four-day appearance by Silvania Machado, a Brazilian evangelist, at TACF in May 1999 was cut short by Arnott when a University of Toronto geochemist analyzed the "gold" flecks that fell from Machado's head during a religious observance and found out that they were some type of plastic film -- and not gold at all.

Other problems have intruded as well. A TACF press release of March 17, 1999, mentioned that "in a few cases" dentists' records showed that gold had previously been put in by them. This meant that some of the people who thought they had undergone a miracle had forgotten about their own dental work.

Sources: Knight Ridder News Service, mid-January 2000; TACF Press Release 3/17/99; Christian Week, 3/30/99; Charisma News Service, 9/8/99