We received complaints from viewers and listeners about a report on Pentecostal pastors who advise members of their congregation to cease taking medication for serious illnesses. Some audience members felt the report incorrectly implied that these actions were widespread amongst Pentecostal pastors.
Response from BBC News
This report was part of our continuing coverage of the way religion and particular denominations interact with a changing society. It is our view that the report raised a significant matter of public interest.
The BBC did not report that it is standard behaviour for Pentecostal ministers to advise HIV patients to refrain from taking medication. We reported that this was the experience of some HIV patients and a practice conducted by a minority of pastors in England. But the fact that even a small number of people stop taking HIV medicine in a way that could endanger their lives as a direct result of encouragement from pastors is a serious issue. Doctors belonging to the Children's HIV Association conducted a study of patients abandoning their medication because of what they had been told by pastors and out of concern for the well-being of patients.
The reports on the BBC One's News at Six and News at Ten each ended with a clear statement that "only a minority of Britain's many independent Pentecostal churches tell people to stop their medicine, but doctors warn that the wrong advice from even a few could do far-reaching harm".