New Zealand Billboard Claims That Jesus Cures Cancer

So, this is a real billboard that the Equippers Church in New Zealand just put up:

You can’t see it in that picture, but there are currently six lines on it, representing the six people who have been “healed” from cancer by Jesus… even though the six people are using modern medicine to treat their illness…

At least there’s some uproar over the fact that the church is trying to capitalize on peoples’ misery, making claims that it can’t possibly prove:

The billboard has sparked outrage from Taradale resident Jody Condin whose three-year-old son has leukaemia.

“I was just disgusted [when I saw the sign],” she told Campbell Live.

“I just couldn’t believe it, it’s just shocking. I couldn’t believe they could make those claims out of nowhere.”

That seems to be one of the few voices against it, though. At least when atheist put up billboards, we make claims we can back up. (Usually.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • ErinGoPenguin

    Gosh, theists making claims for which they have no evidence. How surprising!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jadelackey Jade Lackey

    Talk about false advertisement !

  • http://www.lizheywoodwriter.com/ Liz Heywood

    Time for a “I was healed by the Flying Spaghetti Monster!” billboard.

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    As their aging congregations pass on the clergy are beginning to elicit desperate measures, to shore up their dwindling numbers, at the expense of decency. In thirty-five to forty years the bulk of the Anglo populations will have lost their connection to the old religion and possibly all religious beliefs. 

    • T-Rex

      One can only hope

  • The Skeptical Magician

    They need to put up a billboard letting everyone know that Allah heals cancer too…. http://theskepticalmagician.wordpress.com/2011/08/13/cancer-healed-by-the-power-of-allah/

  • TiltedHorizon

    ” church’s members sincerely believed that Jesus could “heal cancer, or the common cold, or the headache”.”

    Hmmmm. Which of these things are NOT like the others?

    Seems the Equippers Church of New Zealand may be as a cult, a charge I assert when the religious use the same language used by cult leaders and politicians.

    Case in point, that quote is a contingent suggestion intended to take advantage of ‘confirmation bias’ by grouping ‘heal cancer’ with self resolving conditions to create credibility.

    I call shenanigans, I’m getting my broom! SHENANIGANS!!! *thwack*

  • Iosue

    Having lived in NZ for a brief time, it isn’t surprising that most kiwis will call BS on this church and their billboard.  Unlike the US, NZers tend to have a lower tolerance level for this sort of thing.

    And the way I see it, this church putting this billboard up is a good thing, because it will only confirm to kiwis what a sham religion is.  In NZ, doing this sort of thing will only help to drive them AWAY from religion, not toward it. 

    • Anonymous

       I agree, this is much the same as in the UK, whilst 73% of  people claim to be cultural Christians in the last UK census the truth is fewer than 23% give a tuppenny toss about religion. The more religion is pushed in the UK the more people are driven away, we get minimal TV coverage of religion, and atheists even get a say on that.

    • Mattflannagan

      Interesting NZ is great because they are more intolerant of religion. 
      So religious intolerance is a virtue.

      So a site called “friendly athiest” is frequented by people who think religious intolerance is good and it should be illegal for people to express religious beliefs in public.

      • Matt

        As a country we (NZ) aren’t more intolerant of religion than others, we just have more people who don’t give a shit about it (to put it bluntly)  and those that are religious are free to worship as they please. <<Generalisation.

        • Mattflannagan

          Yes but according to some here if they express there beliefs on the side of there church where others can see that should be illegal.  

          Also don’t pretend to speak for NZ, or refer to NZ as “we” I am a kiwi and you clearly do not speak for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    Darwin award for the entire congregation.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    A Christian friend of mine just posted that her thyroid results came back normal.  “God cured me!”.  I’m happy even if she wants to attribute it to God (not even a nod to Dr. Oz) But the comments that really threw me.  “His infinite mercy”  If you’re going to attribute it all to God, then at least be honest and acknowledge that God is pretty choosy in His mercy.

  • DBergy65

    My only thought is about the three lines that represent the three people that JC saved. What about all the people that died of cancer? What was JC doing instead of saving them?

  • http://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/ Nick Nakorn

    Wealthy atheists and lawyers please step forward; surely the sign is illegal?

    • Mattflannagan

      Interesting you think a religious group expressing its religious beliefs in public must be illegal, ever heard of freedom of speech? 

      Oh thats right, that’s only for athiests and pornographers not religious people, right. 

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

        It’s not the religious belief that’s the problem, it’s the false advertising.

        • Mattflannagan

          Katherine all the billboard says is that Jesus can heal, that of course is something affirmed by the new testament which records Jesus healing, now you might believe this is false, but your comments suggest that you think your belief should be taken up by the courts and used to prosecute those who do believe this and express it are engaging in false advertising.

          Anyone who believes what the new testament says and expresses it publically should be prosecuted for uttering falsehoods.   Just think about the implications for religious freedom of the courts making rulings on issues like that. 

          By this logic one could ask for Mosques to be illegal they after all advertise the claim that Mohammed is a prophet, you and i think thats false, so presumably Islam involves false advertising and should be illegal right? 

          • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

             The billboard says “Jesus heals cancer.” This is no different from faith healers saying their beliefs heal illnesses, and people (usually children) have ended up DEAD because of those monsters. This is a disgusting billboard because it mentions six names – all of whom went through conventional cancer therapy. Jesus didn’t heal their cancer – Doctors and medicine healed their cancer.

            • Mattflannagan

              “Jesus didn’t heal their cancer – Doctors and medicine healed their cancer. ” Thats true only if Jesus is not God, if he is, as Christian’s think, then Jesus created the laws of nature and properties of medicine and hence it can be legitimately said that Jesus healed cancer. 

              The only way this can be false is if Jesus is not God, your welcome to suggest the state should prosecute people for believing Jesus is God if you like but that simply demonstrates my point. 

              Also I dount a billboard on a church counts as advertising. 

              • Mattflannagan

                “This is no different from faith healers saying their beliefs heal illnesses, and people (usually children) have ended up DEAD because of those monsters. ” Actually that doesn’t follow, according to the NZ herald this church does not advocate people forgo conventional treatement. From what I can tell all they do is pray for people. 

                Now your welcome to claim that simply praying for someone, is on par with killing children and so anyone who prays should be prosecuted for child abuse. But then don’t pretend your a tolerant freethinker.

                • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

                  No I do not believe that people should be prosecuted for their beliefs, and I don’t even think this church should be prosecuted for their error-filled and egregious signage. I think they should have to take it down, because it’s nasty.

                  Imagine a person driving by this church, grieving cause their young daughter died of inoperable brain cancer, and they see “Jesus Heals Cancer” staring them in the face.

                  Why did Jesus not heal their daughter’s cancer? Did they not pray right? Did Jesus not love them? If they’re an atheist, it’s a taunt, kind of like “Nyeh, nyeh. Jeeesus heeals caanceeer.”

                  It’s a sick way to reflect a theology, and it’s mean-spirited and spiteful in other senses. The owners are free to show it all they want, but it’s a monstrous sign.

                  —–

                  Praying for someone in and of itself is not a problem. Go ahead and pray for a sick person all you wish.

                  Prayer at the cost of actual medicine is dangerous and criminal and should result in child abuse prosecution. Too many children die, and too many of them from illnesses that could have been cured if the parents had taken their children to a hospital.

                • Mattflannagan

                  “No I do not believe that
                  people should be prosecuted for their beliefs, and I don’t even think this
                  church should be prosecuted for their error-filled and egregious signage. I
                  think they should have to take it down, because it’s nasty.”

                  That’s double speak: a
                  church should not be prosecuted for their beliefs but they should be banned
                  from expressing them.

                  Imagine if I said this, I
                  am not religiously intolerant, I atheists can believe what they like but if
                  they ever say it in public they should be prosecuted. Would you consider this “freedom
                  of religion” I doubt it.

                   

                  “Imagine
                  a person driving by this church, grieving cause their young daughter died of
                  inoperable brain cancer, and they see “Jesus Heals Cancer” staring
                  them in the face.”

                  Why
                  did Jesus not heal their daughter’s cancer? Did they not pray right? Did Jesus
                  not love them? If they’re an atheist, it’s a taunt, kind of like “Nyeh,
                  nyeh. Jeeesus heeals caanceeer.”

                  Your assuming the Bill
                  board said that anyone who Jesus loves and prays to him will be healed. But it
                  didn’t say this.

                  The fact some people read
                  into messages theological claims that are not there and then find them
                  offensive is really not  reason to ban
                  them.

                  Suppose however it did say
                  this, the suggestion seems to be that if someone finds a message taunting or
                  offensive it should be banned.

                  Do atheists really want to
                  endorse that principle. I find claims that I believe “bronze age lunacy” or my
                  religion promotes enslaving African americans offensive and taunting,. The
                  claim I am irrational and deluded is highly offensive and taunting. So will you
                  guys advocate these claims be banned right???

                  “Prayer at the cost of
                  actual medicine is dangerous and criminal and should result in child abuse
                  prosecution. Too many children die, and too many of them from illnesses that
                  could have been cured if the parents had taken their children to a ospital.”

                  Yes and the church was very
                  clear in its statements that it did not advise people to pray at the cost of
                  medical treatment. So continually saying this is just dishonest, the sign does
                  not say this, does not encourage this and the church openly discourages this.
                  The fact you misread things and misrepresent others opinions is not a reason to
                  ban other people opinions.

            • Yvonne

              i have family with cancer & every doctor they have consulted say “The medical proffession does not have a cure for cancer, no one does. We would all be millionaires if we did” Phone any doctor you choose….the answere will be the same.

              • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

                 Well, I’m not sure the actual term – sent into remission? Not cured, but kept it from making them worse and/or killing them.

                Forgive me if I seem dismissive. Cancer is a terrible thing (my step-grandfather has some kind of cancer, but I haven’t seen him in months so I don’t know how he’s doing.)

        • http://twitter.com/NickNakorn Nick Nakorn

          Indeed, I was referring to advertising standards for truthfulness – the law varies widely from country to country.

      • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

        If you are under the impression that pornography, and therefore pornographers, are guaranteed the same freedoms of expression as other speech than you don’t know enough to comment on the topic.

        I would suggest starting with some research into the Miller test.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

           Except that, you know, THEY ARE protected under the First Amendment.

          • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

            But they’re not offered the same freedoms.  There is a legal distinction between obscene speech and other forms of speech, and obscene speech is not offered the same protections as regular speech.

            Again, just look up the Miller test.  It’ll take you, like, two seconds.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              How about backing up your claim, instead of telling me to do your work for you?

              Again, obscenity IS protected speech.

              • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

                I referenced the relevant case law.  Anyone who has knowledge of free speech issues should be aware of this, so I should just be reminding someone of common knowledge. I’m not bringing up some little known factoid or esoteric piece of knowledge.  Referencing the Miller test when talking about obscenity law is like referencing the Scopes Monkey trial when talking about evolution, or Roe V Wade when talking about abortion.

                It’s not my job to educate you.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   No, but it IS your job to cite your source(s).

                  Now, cite or STFU.

                • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

                  My source is common knowledge of information regarding the topic at hand.  Also, it is not my job.  I’m not getting paid for this and considering your attitude and woeful lack of knowledge on a basic topic, I sure hope you’re not either.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                   All I asked you to do was back up your claim with ONE source.

                  Whether it’s “common knowledge” or not, you should be citing sources. I’d even be happy with Wiki.

                  Cite, plz.

                • Anonymous-Sam
        • Mattflannagan

          The billboard in in NZ not the US, it might shock you but the US constitution and Us case law does not bind there. 

          My point however remains the person above thinks that it should be illegal for religious people to express there beliefs in public.  

          • Anonymous

             You’re completely missing the point in your childish quest to be persecuted

            • Mattflannagan

              Insults are the usual way people respond when they have no argument.

          • http://twitter.com/NickNakorn Nick Nakorn

            I believe in secularism; that freedom to express one’s religious belief, or lack thereof, should not be encumbered by a state ‘position’ on one particular belief or lack thereof. So I am not suggesting that a Christian can not say (verbally or on a billboard) “I believe that Christ can cure cancer.” because that is a claim about belief and is fine. But to say “Christ cures cancer” is a claim about the curative powers of Christ not about belief. It’s a very important difference.  Likewise, one could say “I believe bananas cure cancer” but not “bananas cure cancer”.  If an Atheist claimed that “Doctors cure cancer” I would be equally against it because medical science (and science generally) simply reveal models that are accurate through a colleaguic and collaborative process. Indeed, in many countries Doctors tend not to advertise at all and they (and drug companies) are limited by advertising standards. 

            If the law is seen to favour one type of religious claim over another (or over an Atheistic claim) then secularism and freedom of expression are threatened. While religious billboards seem to be allowed to say whatever they please, Atheists’ advertising campaigns are very often not allowed to proceed even if they are worded so as not to make special claims for Atheism.

            But we all make mistakes and no one is perfect. I suggest that local (to the church in question) atheists should ask the church to modify their advertisement to “We believe Christ cures cancer”. 

            Some here might like my parody of UK religious billboards from a few Christmas’s ago: http://www.nagara.co.uk/banners.htm 

            • Mattflannagan

              Actually demanding they put
              : I believe in front of a statement does prevent them expressing their beliefs
              about Jesus, here is why.

               

              The claim I believe  Jesus does X is a claim about one’s own psychology.

              The claim  Jesus does X is a claim about Jesus. ‘

              If one can only express the
              first and not the second then one is never allowed to express ones beliefs
              about reality or about God or about Christ one is only ever allowed to talk
              about one’s own psychology all over subjects are effectively banned. That’s not
              freedom of speech its censorship

    • Edward

      While I appreciate the sentiment, it’s a lot harder to sue for that kind of thing in New Zealand. While I’m not a lawyer, I believe to sue for that, they would have to advertise a service, with a price, and someone with cancer would have to buy that service, and eschew alternatives on the basis of a contract and/or paid for advice from said.
      Bearing in mind, that treatment for life threatening diseases such as cancer is 100% tax payer funded there.

      So, unfortunately, it’s essentially impossible to sue them for damages for that ad, in it’s current form.

      However, I think it’s possible to take them to court for publishing unproven medical advice.

      • matt

        “Bearing in mind, that treatment for life threatening diseases such as cancer is 100% tax payer funded there”

        Treatment for anything is 100% funded here. Plus it’s rare for people to sue for anything in NZ. Doubtful they could be taken to court for unproven medical advice either.

      • Mattflannagan

        Yeah, its “unfortunate” you cant sue Christians for expressing there beliefs in public. Like I said have you ever heard of “civil liberties”  or is that something that only applies to athiests.

        • Paul Bennett

          Meanwhile NZ christians seem to be quite happy to stifle any Kiwi atheists from expressing their lack of beliefs in public. Pot. Kettle. Black. Ring any bells for you Matt? For those of you outside New Zealand, use the link to see a fuller explanation of what I mean.
          http://www.nogod.org.nz/2011/04/the-legal-case-for-discrimination/

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    My mother that died from cancer would like to have a word with these people. As I have stated before. My mother once told me God himself showed up in her kitchen and told her that he was going to cure her cancer.

    If God himself cannot keep a promise he makes in person I’m not sure how Jesus his son who God is himself can do it any better.

  • Alvin

    Mehta, you can also add this little embarrassing little piece done by your group
    here

     http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheists-billboard-falsely-attributes-anti-christian-quote-to-thomas-jefferson-59712/

    Seriously,  I think you guys would rather concentrate fire on religious weirdos rather than do a little self-examination and realize that your beliefs are just as prone to being nuts, making false claims, and supporting genocide and other social ills for the sake of a multitude of other ideas like science, the state or just for the fun of it.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      That wasn’t ‘our group’ any more than the Westbro Baptist Church is ‘your’ group.  But in any case, that incident is ancient history and was already thrashed-to-death on here.  We don’t claim to be always right.  Just falsifiable.  Bring on the evidence.

  • Alvin

    I mean I even encountered people who posted pretty nasty comments about a news report detailing the deaths of american missionaries over at Somalia just for handing out bibles on coastal villages or a british aid worker who were killed by muslim extremists.  I can only assume their atheists, because most of the internet sites are populated by such.   The disturbing thing is some comments actually point out that the missionaries deserve it.  It’s just like what a bigoted zealot would say to sinful america as deserving of God’s mercy.  Talk about tolerance!

    It’s a classic case of the tribalism flu that many pragmatic non-believing sociologist would attribute to religion.  I’m not surprised that many of the people commenting here have it.  It’s kinda double speak in a sense.  We tolerate religions, yet we hate them, mock them, disrespect them.  at least Christians know they didn’t deserve to go to heaven and there’s nothing in them that makes them arrogant to lord it over to others who don’t have Christ.  Atheists, don’t have such a limiting factor, the mocking tone of the comments here and elsewhere reflect that non-believers today have such a self-serving view of themselves that just because they are better educated they have the right to tell what the religious believer ought or ought not to believe.  Like an irreligious pharisee.

  • Alvin

    Just in case of the inevitable knee jerk arguments such as

    -comparing Christians to the taliban – answer: non-sequitur
    -Crusades – answer: Political
    -Inquisition – answer: see Henry Kamen

    Yes, yes I know more mentions of christian nutjobs out there like the ones that posted the bill board.  But hey I’m just here to remind you guys that you have Eric Klebold, the Oslo shooter – he was a nominal christian btw, he never believed in Jesus Christ but has a fetish for the symbols but not the teachings.  Sure atheists who have their baby blinders on will probably think that as long as a person who calls himself a christian is one, without examining the context.  Dawkins calls himself a cultural christian and Mussolini who’s an atheist got baptized in a roman catholic church is also one.  For those atheists who are into the perception porn of equating the church and fascism link why do you reject the former as a christian and not the latter without considering that both persons did an observable ritual or testimony that marked them out as a christian?

    they were will be many more bullshit arguments that will eventually follow, but I’ve seen them all debated and heard responses to them.  Love it or hate it Metha, but that sums up what I think of you guys

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      I’ll cover all three of your posts here. Atheists, as a whole, are an anomalous blob. We are united by one thing and one thing alone: we do not believe in God. Whether there are absolute jerks out there or the sweetest, kindest individuals, we’re all atheists.

      The billboard in your first post was incorrect, indeed. Some atheists (Ed Brayton and I believe Jerry Coyne) indeed called out the incorrect quote (Brayton even called it Barton-esque.) We acknowledged the incorrect nature of the quote, and we acknowledged that it’s used to try to thrust an anti-theistic nature upon someone who was very likely a Christian of some form (Jefferson did not believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ.)

      There are bad atheists, no doubt. We don’t however, have the luxury that Christians seem to employ though. When a Christian does a bad thing, the first thing said tends to be “oh well they’re not really a Christian” but when an atheist does a bad thing, it’s met by “atheists are just immoral and this proves it.” We do acknowledge that atheists do bad things, but at the same time we do not shrink from that person’s word. We do not claim “they’re not really an atheist” because we give a person’s word the benefit of the doubt.

      The people you mention in your second post are just the same sort of people who we would likely call out for being mean-spirited. Yet you come across as if they’re representative of our ideas. What kind of jerk are you? I think that practice is abhorrent. I don’t hate religious people, some of my best friends and relatives are religious. I hate what religion does to society. I hate how religion takes one look at me and decides I’m evil. I hate how religion is trying to take my rights as an individual away. I hate how religion is trying to force women into subservience, deny basic rights of proper education to children, and how it’s being corrupted to even deny proper science!

      You claim that not all Christians are actually Christian, but who are you to judge? If a person says they’re Christian, I take them at their word. I don’t question their true belief of not because that’s a complete fallacy (No True Scotsman.) Whether Klebold or Breivik were Christian, or atheist, or Muslim, or whatnot it doesn’t matter. They were bad people! That’s enough. We can condemn their behavior while acknowledging their beliefs.

      We don’t have Klebold and Breivik. What we have are people. People of all different ways, and natures, and beliefs beyond the one. Your arrogance is clear.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    RE: Alvin

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5kPUFxXYLs&feature=related

  • John

    Why did these God fearing people get cancer in the first place. Was this an act of God! ! that needed Jesus to fix it!!!  or was it the work of Devil as some will say.  Isn’t  God and Jesus are almost  same.

  • Anonymous

    As a NZ citizen and an atheist, I (like a large part of the country) couldn’t care less about this, this group of people are free to claim whatever it is they want. As long as they aren’t denying themselves or others proper medical care they aren’t hurting anyone (they don’t seem to be telling anyone to stop taking their medication).

    They might be have to take the sign down soon anyway. 
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10788846 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Bradley/100002544585162 Bill Bradley

    So I take the author of this article rejects Jesus as the Son of God and the healing power of Him?


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