Divine healing advertisement controversy

 
Statue of Virgin Mary Politics and religion have clashed in a controversy over adverts for divine healing

We can't really avoid breaking the classic social taboo of talking about politics at midday on BBC One every Sunday.

But we rarely compound the faux pas by throwing religion into the mix as well.

This week, though, we gave it both barrels.

The Advertising Standards Authority recently banned a leaflet promoting divine healing for conditions ranging from sleeping problems to multiple sclerosis and cancer.

The ASA says it doesn't wish to "disregard anyone's beliefs, but specific claims targeted at people who may be seriously ill must comply with the rules on substantiation and social responsibility that apply to all other advertising".

God's healing power

But it has infuriated South West Devon MP, Gary Streeter, who chairs Christians in Parliament:

"The words the ASA objected to were that God can heal you physically, and what I say is, if you're not allowed to say that any longer, it's the same as saying God is not real, God does not exist.

"That's what they're really saying and that is not a decision for them to take, that's a matter for individual faith.

"It's been part of mainstream Christian tradition for 2,000 years that God can heal you...

"We should not be stopped from making that very modest claim - because it happens to be true."

We sent the Sunday Politics' Tamsin Melville to film a healing session on the streets of Truro, and Gary Streeter joined me in the studio along with Labour's Jude Robinson and Lib Dem peer Lord Burnett:

The Sunday Politics looks at the controversy over the advert for divine healing

 
Martyn Oates Article written by Martyn Oates Martyn Oates Political editor, South West

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    The burden of proof is on those who make a claim. You cannot go around making a claim and saying "Well, prove me wrong! You can't? Well I guess I'm right!" Because it's ludicrous.

    By this logic I can claim that there is a giant purple chicken on Pluto and expecting you, being unable to prove me wrong, to concede defeat. It's a classic Christian argument.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    I invite you friendly to attend a healing service at Divine Restoration Ministries in South Africa on every last Friday of the month. You will see the lame walk and the blind see. You will see how God heals all sickness. I am a testimony to this. The more you believe the more you see.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    @John I dont think anyone is suggesting you can't publish works on faith healing. Quite the opposite there atre already a lot of books on the subject. What they are suggesting here is the onus is on proof rather than faith when it comes to advertising. GlaxoSmithKline and the other drug companies have to prove the worth of their product before they can advertise. This is no different.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    @John
    I agree, belief is not evidence; generally, Christians would point to evidence other than faith alone.
    But this is about censorship, not belief. If you need absolute proof in order to say 'God can heal', then will you need absolute proof before you can publish an ad saying 'there is no God'? Will scientists be banned from publishing works on, e.g., black matter or black energy?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    @Mark
    No, but if people are going to bandy about words like "real" and "exist" when referring to a god, then the onus is on them to demonstrate the reality or existence of that god. Just saying "I believe it to be true" isn't evidence at all.

 

Comments 5 of 8

 

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