PHILADELPHIA--A South Jersey pastor accused of distributing a so-called "miracle cure" drink containing industrial bleach in Uganda says the concoction has natural healing power to cure serious diseases and that "you just have to believe it."
Robert Baldwin, 52, of Willingboro, N.J., recently landed in the international spotlight after media reports that he operates a network of religious leaders abroad that monthly provides up to 50,000 Ugandans, including infants, the bleach mixture, which experts say has no known health benefit. The U.S. government issued a warning in 2010 urging people to stop drinking the substance after a spike in its use here.
The network was uncovered by the Guardian of London in a report earlier this month alleging that Baldwin has been importing large shipments of MMS, or "miracle mineral solution" to Uganda. A former British clergyman has been bankrolling Baldwin, according to the report.
In a brief interview, Baldwin said chlorine dioxide, used for stripping textile and industrial water treatment, can cure ailments such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Baldwin said he promotes the drink as part of his ministry, the Global Healing Christian Missions.
"I want to get the truth out to people," Baldwin said in a telephone interview this week. "My beliefs as a Christian has to do with watching people suffer and die when they don't have to."
In an interview earlier this month with NJ Advance Media, Baldwin denied that he was personally responsible for distributing MMS in Uganda. He said his operations and social media accounts were temporarily shut down because of the negative response.
Officials in Uganda have said the government plans to investigate the alleged distribution of MMS by Baldwin's group. The U.S. Embassy in Uganda has denounced the distribution of MMS and issued a warning about its dangers.
"We strongly condemn the distribution of this substance, which is extremely dangerous and is NOT a cure for any disease," the U.S. Mission said in a statement.
Amazon on Wednesday announced that it has pulled from its inventory several books that promote MMS as a cure for autism and cancer. A spokesperson declined further comment on the reason for the removal.
The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs is looking into the allegations of possible fraud by Baldwin because of the published reports, said spokesperson Lisa Coryell. Baldwin's ministry is not a registered charity with the state, she said.