Christian MPs demand a reversal of the ASA’s ‘God Can Heal’ leaflet ban

LAST year the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority slapped a ban on a humorous but “disrespectful” Phones4U ad featuring a winking Jesus promoting Samsung Galaxy Android phones, much to the delight of the hordes of Christians (98 all told) who lodged complaints about the promotion.

The banned Phones4U ad

The ASA’s daft decision passed almost without comment. No huge fuss, as far as I can ascertain, was kicked up by outraged defenders of free expression.

But this week we DO have a fuss – this time over the ASA’s marginally more sensible decision to ban a God Can Heal leaflet handed out by a bunch of Christian freaks in Bath called Healing on the Streets (or HOTS, if you prefer).

The ad makes ludicrous claims about God’s ability to heal real horrible things like back pain, arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, paralysis and … well, you name it … and God, who most likely inflicted this stuff on you miserable sinners in the first place, can make it all vanish if only you’d go on bended knee (the non-arthritic one) and pray for forgiveness and healing.

The fuss is being made by a gaggle of Jesus-lovin’ MPS – well, three actually – who have challenged the ASA’s ban on the grounds that:

It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you [the ASA] have decided that this is not possible.

This is a quote from a letter sent to the ASA by Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) who want the ASA to produce “indisputable scientific evidence” showing that prayer does not work – otherwise they will raise the issue in Parliament.

Ooo-er, that should make for an entertaining debate.

Streeter points out in his letter:

You might be interested to know that I received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.

He added:

It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation [what, even the UK’s huge atheist population?] appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?

Hat tip: Pete H and BarrieJohn