Does getting a blessing with consecrated oil really heal the sick? If you listen long enough in any Sacrament meeting, the anecdotal evidence is “yes it does”. But is there a way to look at empirical evidence? Could you look at death rates in a highly LDS population, and compare that to a non-LDS population? Should the death rates be lower in the LDS populations?
I looked at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention web site for all the numbers cited in this post.
For 2014, the leading cause of death in Utah was Heart Disease. 155 people per 100,000 died from Heart Disease. That put Utah at number 34 compared to the other states. But that means that states like California, not known as a particular religious state, had less death per 100,000 at 142.
Well, that doesn’t seem to prove that blessing work. But maybe the next item will. Utah was the lowest state in the nation for deaths from cancer! See, those blessings work for cancer, but they are not so good for heart disease. But maybe there are other factors at work here. The number one killing cancer is lung cancer, cause by smoking. So really we have made the case that the Word of Wisdom is divinely inspired, but still haven’t made the case that priesthood blessings work.
If you discount cancer, Utah is about average to above average for death rates from all the normal causes that one might ask for a blessing for. Kidney disease, 11th; Stroke 20th; respiratory disease, 43th.
There there is infant mortality. This seems the best place for blessing to work. Who wouldn’t bless a sick baby! Well, Utah is better than most states, and places around 10 out of 50 for infant morality. But those heathens in California still beat it, except in 2005, in which Utah had the lowest deaths of infants in the nation!
So is this proof that blessing do not work (but it did in 2005)? Or maybe the church is moving away from a literal interpretation of healing blessings with talks about the faith to not be healed. What does this even mean? “Well, you didn’t have enough faith so God healed you!”
I’m not a statistician and the above attempts to draw something out of those numbers is probably very wrong. But if these claims of healing power by priesthood blessings are true, it seems like there should be a way to measure it against some control group. Any ideas?