Divine healing advertisement controversy

Martyn Oates
Political editor, South West

image captionPolitics 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: