Pastor Cesar Peixoto of Iglesia Cristo La Verdad Que Liberta in Sao Roque, Brazil, is known for promising "divine liposuction" to his church members seeking a quick weight loss option, and now, after much criticism and reproach from the Brazilian evangelical community, Peixoto is denouncing allegations that he is a "charlatan."
According to Peixoto, those who have received divine liposuction through prayer have been healed from diseases including gastritis, ulcers, bone disease, thyroid aliments and have been freed from addictions in addition to losing weight. He also argues that the practice is biblically based because he says the first "spiritual operation" occurred when God created Eve from Adam's rib.
"Many people think it is absurd but it's a gift I received. I've been called a charlatan, but I'm not, the power of God passes through me and things happen," said Peixoto, according to NoticiaCristiana.com.
Peixoto says he does not charge faithful worshippers for the spiritual experience, all he asks is for them to have faith that a miracle can occur. The process usually entails him leading a moment of prayer before people begin to enter a temporary deep sleep during which he believes God is performing the divine liposuction.
When dealing with people who have smoking addictions, Peixoto says he asks them to bring their cigarettes to church in order to see the difference towards their habit after the experience.
"They feel disgusted by cigarettes and the bad taste. They feel bad and then leave the addiction," said Peixoto.
During the divine liposuction, Peixoto's general prayer is for God to control people's appetite.
"God is the doctor of doctors. He has the power to cure all diseases and is not limited. So why not cure obesity?" said Peixoto.
Peixoto also views the divine experience as a marketing method to attract people to his congregation by distributing flyers throughout his town, oftentimes door to door and while also traveling to different cities to facilitate the practice.
However, he is not the only pastor to take on the notion of a spiritual, non-surgical procedure. In 2008, another Brazilian pastor, Ubiraci Xavier of Ministerio Brillo de Dios, garnered attention when he guaranteed his congregants that they could lose up to 11 pounds instantly through prayer. Similar to Peixoto, Xavier denounced criticism that his ulterior motive was to earn money through the practice.
Peixoto's "spiritual gift," as he describes it, was bestowed upon him after praying for 40 consecutive days on top of a mountain in a remote town in Brazil.