The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the decision of the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) Council to uphold the BHA’s complaint against a billboard advertisement by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
The advertisement, which appeared in the Finsbury Park area of London earlier this year, carried the following story:
My son was born with a heart problem. After a party he started bleeding from the mouth. I rushed him to hospital and the specialist said he had 16 loose arteries. He went into a coma, his heart stopped and both his lungs collapsed. Doctors and specialists expected him to die. At the UKCG I was given some blessed oil to anoint my son with. Now that his heart and lungs are better I thank the UKCG for all the spiritual support I received. Julia Caro.
The report into the complaint found that the advertisement broke the clauses in the ASA’s code which deal with substantiation, truthfulness, testimonials and endorsements and health and beauty products and therapies. The ASA were particularly concerned that the poster might discourage people from seeking qualified medical advice.
Pepper Harow, BHA Campaigns Officer, commented, “A concerned member of the public contacted us about the poster and we sent a detailed complaint to the ASA. The advert insinuated strongly that the act of anointing had saved someone from a life threatening illness when conventional medicine had failed, thus suggesting that the oil or the act itself had healing properties. This clearly goes against the ASA’s advertising code which states that any healing or beauty product must have scientific evidence to back up any claims made about its effectiveness.”
She continued, “This gives a clear and important message that preying on vulnerable people with products that cannot be substantiated will not be tolerated. Such irresponsible claims that people can be cured through religious practices which have no scientific, medical evidence in their favour should always be challenged.”
For further comment or information, contact Pepper Harow on 020 7462 4992.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief. It is the largest organisation in the UK working for a secular state.