New Zealand Church’s ‘Jesus Heals Cancer’ Billboard is Replaced… with Something Just As Bad

Remember the billboard in New Zealand that stated “Jesus Heals Cancer” and contained tally marks indicating how many people had been “cured” by Jesus?

Turns out the ad by the Equippers church generated all sorts of outrage, prompting the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate.

Maybe they’re just trying to avoid any sort of punishment, but the church has removed the ad… and replaced it with one that reads:

“Jesus heals every sickness and every disease — Matthew 4:23″

*Sigh* They don’t get it.

We never had a problem with the word “Cancer.”

Our issue was with the word “Heals.”

Jesus isn’t a doctor. He doesn’t hand you medicine. He doesn’t create the medicine. And he doesn’t heal you. At best, he’s a placebo whose side effects include homophobia and gullibility.

Jody Condin, whose three-year-old son suffers from leukemia, doesn’t see much of a difference between the ads, either:

“I’m pleased they’ve taken it down but I don’t think the new sign is much of an improvement.

“I still think that that could bring harm to those who haven’t been cured from every sickness and every illness. I still think that’s giving false hope. I believe that [the church] can heal the soul, but I don’t think they can heal every disease and every illness.”

It’d be great if the ASA found the courage to take down this new billboard on account of misinformation since there’s no credible evidence to support the church’s claim. If nothing else, they’re trying to capitalize on peoples’ suffering. Even if it’s not illegal, it’s unethical and the church should recognize that.

(Thanks to Matthew for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://onefuriousllama.com/ onefuriousllama

    It’s embarrassing is what it is.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Jesus heals every sickness and every disease.  You just have to die of it first, then he heals it.

    • Matto the Hun

      OMG! What a coincidence, that’s exactly how I heal disease too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.freshfield Matt Jones

    Jesus heals amputees?

    • Paul Little

      An amputation is neither a sickness, nor a disease.

      • Fentwin

        But Jebus could heal any disease that can lead to amputation, such as diabetes and my grandfather’s leg.

      • Anonymous

        Disease:
        2:: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.

        I think being physically unable to tie my own shoes because I’m missing one arm fits into that definition. Admittedly loosely, and not according to the standard usage, but the fact is you could easily argue that missing a limb could be considered having a disease.

      • Reasongal

         And being dead or blind is neither sickness nor disease, and yet Jesus purportedly “healed” the blind and raised the dead.

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

      This was what was so liberating about having my leg amputated after 1) praying for it to be healed when I was a child (which is STILL LEGAL in over 35 US STATES)  2)feeling shame in living with a fused & scarred limb 3) 15 years of therapy to get over being a Christian Scientist.

      When my leg was amputated I said THERE! HEAL THAT , CHRISTIAN SCIENCE!

      Ahem. These billboards push my buttons on so many levels…

  • Reikobleu

    As a person that works in the medical field, it makes me sick to my stomach offering false hope to people with serious medical conditions. If we can sue physics for fraud, when the hell are we going to sue churches for the EXACT same crime.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/O6I2J4NCTTOHLHVWOOZNFOKB2Y John Spraggs

      Like your comment, but I still can’t resist this:

      I’d rather we sue psychics for fraud. It’s hard to sue gravity or physics in general.

      • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

        No-one really believes in gravity – it’s only a theory.

  • StarStuff

    So why are there sick Christians?  Do they not pray hard enough?

    • Anonymous-Sam

       Observe the mental gymnastics whenever a Christian Science believer prays their sick child to death.

      “The illness is only a separation between you and the immensity of God, honey. Just pray and that cholera will go away. Keep praying, dear. Don’t complain, just pray! You aren’t praying hard enough! Pray, damn you! … … Jesus wanted my baby! Now my baby’s happy in Heaven!”

  • Anonymous

    It’s really sad that they feel the need to loosely and inaccurately summarize Matthew 4:23 rather than quote it accurately.  For what they consider to be the Word of God, they treat it rather shabbily.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/ORC3MNN6LJHFDQIEEIIRIHCFVU Rob S

       I agree. I looked up the reference and it’s clear that they cherry picked a verse and then cherry picked the words from the verse to suit their purpose.

  • Anonymous

    They ought to do this:  http://www.voriank.net/challenge.html

    • Anonymous-Sam

       You know, I wish people would take him up on that challenge. It’s probably that the site is too obscure and no one’s even really seen it, but I can’t help but feel like the lack of people taking the challenge is a not entirely subtle sign that people are aware that they would fail if they tried. You can’t demand God give instant, incontrovertible results of anything. The only miracles ever granted, the only demonstrations of God’s existence, are either (A) pointing at the Bible, which says God exists, (B) something which could easily be explained as mere coincidence, such as cancer going into remission [which happens to atheists, Taoists, and Satanists alike], or (C) pointing at a common facet of nature and declaring God’s nature is manifest within it [e.g., intelligent design].

      God never gives overt demonstrations. I’ve heard a number of arguments about this — “That would violate free will.” “If God proved He existed, then the mystery of God would become moot.” And… I don’t buy them, because God supposedly manifested directly, intervened directly, and acted directly in incontrovertible ways in the Bible. Why are we, if our sins are forgiven by the Christ, unworthy of the same proofs as, say, Jacob the heinous sinner of the Old Testament?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I think it’s pretty good actually.  Even if Jesus heals SOME diseases, it’s obvious Jesus doesn’t heal ALL diseases.  QED.

    • Mattflannagan

      Except of course the passage does not say  this . Nice to see you jump to conclusions without actually reading the source.  

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Except of course I was referring to the sign, not the passage.  It’s not my responsibility to proofread for them.  If they have the right to quote the bible then surely they have the right to do it badly.

      • Ndonnan

        Seems to be a common theme on this site,like the slavery quote,ha

  • Danish Atheist

    Why do Jesus allow people to get illnesses in the first place??

  • Mairianna

    I work in cancer clinical trials.  I see this jebus person NOT curing cancer every day.  

  • Anonymous

    It’s pretty clear that Jesus cannot cure mental illness — because everyone who prays to him is crazy.

    • Jesus healed me

      He healed me from bipolar disorder

  • Misdirected unction

    I may not like this, but I think they are in the clear. They no longer claim anything; they just quote a book. And, though ortcutt may have a valid complaint that the quote isn’t accurate, I think the copyright is expired, so nothing there, either.

    • Guest

      All I need to do is self-publish a book saying that my snake oil cures all, and I can advertise that “fact” wherever I choose.

      • unction

         provided you cite the source. I read this sign and think, “yeah, right, bible verse.” The fact that some read it and think “sacred word of god” doesn’t change anything.

  • Anonymous

    On the plus side…if you are a doctor, I guess you do not ever have to worry about Christians bringing any malpractice suits your way.  Or if they do, just say that you did what Jesus told you to do, that should do it! 

    They are such jackwagons (Christians not Docs) that every day it gets tougher to stomach the deluge of stupidity that comes across my computer.

  • T-Rex

    He obviously can’t heal mental illness though. it’s down right scary how delusional people can be when it comes to mythology and superstitions. Un-friggin-believable.

  • Anonymous

    I for the life of me cannot figure out why anyone would care that Jesus can heal little slashy (IIIII II)  things.  Let alone go to a church that makes that a selling point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

    Actually, I find this a lot better – they’re quoting their source and citing it. They’re saying the bible says Jesus heals diseases. We’re saying the bible says Jesus was pro-slavery.

    They’re still wrong, but their wrongness is now based on scripture, which even most Christians concede to be an unreliable and non-literal source. It no longer suggests empirical evidence for their belief.

    “Well, the Bible says so” in religious debates is the equivalent of “Well, Hitler” in political ones. It’s not an argument, but rather an implicit concession of the point.

  • Mattflannagan

    “It’d be great if the ASA found the courage to take down this new billboard on account of misinformation since there’s no credible evidence to support the church’s claim ” 

    So your suggesting that a government body should rule its illegal to quote scripture in public because you think there is no “credible evidence” to support the churches beliefs. 

    That pretty clearly would go against freedom of religion and speech. 

    Have you even remotely considered the public policy implications of the state deciding which religious beliefs are supported by credible evidence and allowed to be expressed and which are not.

    Change the name of this site, you are not a “friendly athiest” you advocate religious persecution pure and simple. 

    • Jean-Paul Marat

      Saying that the earth was formed by a deity in six days hurts no one directly (though, indirectly, I’d say it causes a lack of curiosity in the natural world and causes people to suppress scientific progress, but that’s another ball of wax).

      Saying that God will heal all illness if you pray hard enough can cause people to stop getting medical treatment that they need to survive. In order to make a medical claim that is informative, you *need* to have credible evidence. Why base your health on anything less?

      How many Christian Scientists’ kids have to die because their parents have the stupid belief that God will cure leukemia? It’s not persecution, it’s saving people’s lives from barbaric, Bronze-Age bullshit.

      Why do Christians have to pull the “persecution” card at every time we point out your bogus beliefs?

      • Mattflannagan

         

        “Saying that God will heal
        all illness if you pray hard enough can cause people to stop getting medical
        treatment that they need to survive.”

        The
        sign does not say this though does it, moreover it was clear in the media that
        it taught people not to forgo medical treatment.  So this is really a dishonest response. The
        church isn’t advocating these things

        “How many Christian
        Scientists’ kids have to die because their parents have the stupid belief that
        God will cure leukemia? It’s not persecution, it’s saving people’s lives from
        barbaric, Bronze-Age bullshit.”

        This is not a “Christian
        Science” church is it. The fact some other organisation has harmful beliefs
        which this church does not hold does not really justify you banning this church
        from expressing its beliefs.

        “Why do Christians have to
        pull the “persecution” card at every time we point out your bogus
        beliefs?”

        I didn’t “pull it out”
        because you criticised my bogus beliefs, as I point out above the beliefs you
        criticise the church does not even hold, nor does the passage cited actually
        say what the people in here claim it does. 
        I said you advocated persecution because you want to “ban” other people
        expressing their beliefs. Note that criticising a belief and using the state to
        ban it are quite different things.

        Oh and calling something
        bronze age bullshit is not really a rational response. Athiesm and particularly
        the kind of naturalism contemporary atheists typically hold actually predates
        Christianity by several hundred years. 
        The people who believe “bronze age” beliefs are the people in here. 

        • amyc

           Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s a lack of belief in theism. I guess you could say people have been lacking belief in all sorts of things since the beginning of humanity, but I don’t see what your point is. The prevailing myths of the bronze age (and iron age and on until the last couple centuries) were about gods/goddesses and other fanciful creatures. These things were invoked to answer questions about the world that humans at the time were not able to answer. When atheists say something is a “bronze age myth,” we’re saying that we should be past that by now. We have better answers and better ways to find answers than they did. I’m not sure what you mean by “the kind of naturalism contemporary atheists typically hold,” but if you mean the use of the scientific method and the idea that we should strive to find natural explanations for phenomenon, then no, I don’t think it predates Christianity. Of course, you could be meaning something else. In that case you need to define your terms better.

        • Anonymous-Sam

           But, in fact, the Bible is full of claims that prayer can accomplish anything. Jesus even goes so far as to say that even people with a miniscule amount of faith can work miracles through God — real, overt miracles, such as moving mountains. And yet… prayer after prayer goes unanswered. Even prayers from the devout, from those who’ve struggled their entire lives to live perfectly according to the precepts of their religion. Prayers from the pious and from the impious alike go unanswered.

          Ergo, prayer does not lead to healing, much less the promised moving of mountains. In scientific studies, it proves equally as effective as a placebo. This has been measured by both religious and atheistic groups (at significant cost, I might add).

          If even one person continues to be ill after praying to be cured, then someone is falsely advertising the powers of a miracle. It’s either the billboard, the Bible, or both.

          This sort of thing is why such claims are being banned in the UK.

    • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

      “Have you even remotely considered the public policy implications of the
      state deciding which religious beliefs are supported by credible
      evidence and allowed to be expressed and which are not.”

      Have you considered the downside of giving every fraudster, charlatan, con artist and quack a free pass if they simply change “Buy my cancer-curing pills” to “The Church of Bob says: Buy my cancer-curing pills”?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TLHIXVS2CHDJNWYPZJIZ5NNZ3A Robert

      “That pretty clearly would go against freedom of religion and speech. ”
      It’s in New Zealand.  I have no idea what their consititution and laww look like, but its seems you are imposing an American ideal on another nation that might not share your views.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/O6I2J4NCTTOHLHVWOOZNFOKB2Y John Spraggs

    “Religious advertising and freedom of speech are vital components of a free and democratic society and to try and rule against this form of advertising using the measure “truth in advertising” cannot and should not apply for faith based or religious advertising.”

    Now that’s an admission of guilt if ever I saw one.

    He’s saying free speech means you must not be prevented from lying, especially if it’s for your faith or religion.

    • Mattflannagan

      Actually, its not an admission of guilt at all, its simply an admission that the whole issue with religious freedom and freedom of speech is that they protect different views points, that is viewpoints of people who disagree with each other and hence places where each side thinks the other side is saying something false. 

      Your welcome to claim freedom of religion means your only allowed to proclaim the true religion not false religions. But once you,ve done that your pretty clearly not advocating freedom of religion at all are you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

    I agree with everyone here who has said that at least they are citing their source. By putting “Jesus Heals Cancer” (without the quotes) out there, they are stating that it’s a fact. But by putting something up there with quotation marks and citing their source, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Hell, from my standpoint the fact that they cannot back up those claims with an actual credible, medical source but must only rely upon their “book of circular what-they-call-logic” makes this almost laughable. 

  • http://twitter.com/condiricenbeans Justin T.

    I’d love to see a billboard go up next to it that says “Jesus gave X children pediatric cancer today!” with x filled in with whatever the average number of children who get cancer every day. If he’s omnipotent and omnipresent, he should get credit for causing it if he gets credit for curing it. 

  • Mark

    I may be not religious but did the hell as quoted by this blog ”
     At best, he’s a placebo whose side effects include homophobia and gullibility.”
    That in it self misleading.

  • Ndonnan

    One thing Athiests hate is personal testimony,Millions of people have been miraculiously healed of all types of aillments.I personally know cases of terminally ill stage 4 cancer dissapearing over night.Its irrelivant what you deny,the cancer is gone.You all need to get out more.I dont know why God dosent heal all the time,thats His business,we will find out the answer to that one day

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

       It’s called probability. Yes, I’m sure out of the millions of people with cancer, a couple have experienced this “miracle.” And atheists (see how you spell it?) hate personal testimony because it’s not necessarily based on fact. And just because cancer “disappears” overnight does not automatically equate that it was done by any sort of higher power.

      • Ndonnan

        who cares, its gone

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          The person who is praying for their life but still has cancer might care.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sdorst Stan Dorst

      As a physician, I have personally seen hundreds (at least) of cases of cancer. I have never seen nor heard of cases of stage 4 cancer that disappeared overnight. I have seen cases where cancer responded better than expected to chemotherapy. I have seen a woman who prayed to be healed of her breast cancer and came in with it eating through her chest wall. I work in a Catholic hospital, where the chaplain prays for everyone in the hospital every hour over the PA system, and the death rate from cancer is no different there than it is across town at the secular hospital.

      To be honest, I simply don’t believe that you have seen what you claim to have seen. I think you want to believe it yourself, and have exaggerated the claim for that reason. The desire to believe and to convince others makes people dishonest to themselves and others all the time. I know, because I did similar things when I was a Christian.

      • Ndonnan

        Ive nothing to gain  and dont care to convince you or anyone of any thing. there is countless books and dvds available of just these things happening. what about raised from the dead after been in a morge for three days, people declared dead for 90mins…ect ect its irrelevant what anybody thinks it happens

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601508522 Brandy Dean

           You make these outlandish claims but cannot prove it – if what you or that church claimed was true it would be all over the news. There isn’t even ONE credible case where anyone has been brought back to life after being in morgue and dead for three days. You’re delusional if you really think any of that BS happens.

    • amyc

      Have you ever witnessed god healing amputees?

    • Thackerie

      If you “personally know cases of terminally ill stage 4 cancer disappearing over night,” please alert the news media — or at least contact the American Medical Association — and urge them to get cracking on their follow-up investigation of these miracles. With “millions” of people miraculously healed, it should be easy to find two or three whose cases can be analyzed by the standard peer-review method and open to public scrutiny. Otherwise, we might think you’re either extremely gullible or just another liar-for-Jesus.

  • amyc

    This reminds me of when I was 14 (I think?) and my step-dad convinced me that prayer doesn’t work.

    He had started going to these weekend “healing” services and was trying to get my mom to go, but she was having none of it. He was never really into it, but I could tell that he wanted to be. He kept telling my mom,”The Bible says,’If you ask you shall receive.’” as well as many other verses. I started asking him questions about it. Will god heal any sickness? Yes, he said. Will heal any wounds? Yes, he would say. Then I asked him: Why do you go to the doctor then? Why do I still have asthma and really bad allergies? Why are my knees messed up? I and my mother had prayed about all of those things (and more) that were never healed. He had no credible answers. That’s when I really started questioning.

    Here are the exchanges that would play in my head:

    “Why do I pray?

    To ask god for things that I need and spend time communicating with him. I answered myself.

    Why do I need to actually pray if god can just read my mind? If god can read my mind, then he already knows what I need. Plus, there are plenty of times when I pray, and god doesn’t do it.

    Oh well, the times you don’t get it is when god knows better and says no.

    If god is going to do what’s best for me anyways, then why should I pray? Am I trying to get him to change his mind?

    No, changing his mind would mean that god’s original intentions were not perfect. Therefore, if your prayer made him change his mind, then you changed the will of god, and that’s not possible.

    So then, I should stop praying, because god already knows all of my needs and wants and will bestow them on me as he sees fit anyways. So what’s the point?”

    I had this view of prayer for the longest time. After that age, the only time I prayed was when I had serious questions and doubts about my religion. God never answered my questions either.

    • Mossj

       I hope my kids go through this same process. Their mother is trying to teach them asinine Iron Age fairy tales. I’m trying to teach them about, y’know, reality.

  • Joshua Fisher

    Unfortunately they will probably get away with this one. They aren’t making a claim, they are just quoting scripture. It’s a stupid loophole and ill bet they fall through without even brushing an edge.

  • Sheryl24

    I find it hard to believe a three year old would have such an opinion Mom ???????
    Your are right Jesus is not a doctor he is the creator and does not need medicine to heal you. However if you think it is just a lie why bother. What about the witches who cast spells? Why Jesus? Even the government at the time could not find any fault in him?

  • God healed me from bipolar

    Jesus has the power to heal us all but He doesn’t always. And it takes faith and prayer and sometimes deep rooted sin needs to be repented for. Read the Book called “A More Excellent Way” by Henry Wright

  • fiona whittaker

    my atheist father in law had ulcers on his legs for two years which wouldnt heal. He also went to the ulcer-specialist clinic where he stayed for 6 weeks but they sent him home at the end of that period and said they were sorry but the ulcers were too deep and established to be able to cure them…therefore He went to a church that made the same claim as this church in NZ- except this was in Birmingham, uk.- and guess what ?  He WAS healed!!!   We were all absolutely amazed- and my father in law who was ANTI belief and strongly atheist became a christian about two days after going to that church!!!  I think the truth is that Jesus DOES heal- but you have to go and find out for yourself…. actually go to the church and watch and listen  and ask question…..my father in law was 79 when that happened…. but I dont recommend waiting that long. The truth is that God really loves people- but you have to go along and find out a little about it before you make up your mind…. God bless x x 

  • fiona

    for those who are interested the church was in solihul, Birmingham,uk – Christian Renewal Centre- you can google it and find out more- they have a brilliant healing service every week and everyones welcome- they usually get around 600 people – and they come from as far away as europe- cos people really are being healed!!  :)  


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