Advertising Agency Rules That ‘Jesus Heals Cancer’ Billboard is False Advertising

Remember how the Equippers church in New Zealand put up a billboard saying “Jesus Heals Cancer”? The billboard included tally marks indicating how many people had been “cured” by Jesus…

After complaints, they replaced it with a sign reading, “Jesus heals every sickness and every disease — Matthew 4:23″ — which was another lie…

Now, the Advertising Standards Authority in the country has ruled that the church “breached advertising standards” (DOC) — basically, it’s a case of false advertising:

it said the billboard made its statement as a “strong absolute statement of fact” when it should be stated as a belief of the church. It breached the advertising code of ethics on that ground.

The authority said that while the church wanted to offer “a message of hope” its billboard was provocative and would cause offence to people who were dealing with, or knew people who were dealing with, cancer.

It said the billboard could cause confusion for some people as it could be interpreted as meaning the Equippers Church was able to offer something that other churches could not.

This rule was also violated:

Rule 2: Truthful Presentation — Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation.

It’s the right decision, though poor reasoning. What if a church advertised that it offered members a ticket to Heaven? What about an ad promoting homeopathy or psychic services as if both were legitimate?

Aren’t those also lies parading as fact?

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://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Well, if Jesus doesn’t cure cancer what good is he?

    • Salford3lad

      As we say in the UK, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard or an ashtray on a motorbike.

  • Sue Blue

    Under  Rule 2, all churches – and the bible itself – could be labelled false advertising.  After all, they’re promising health, happiness, and afterlife and eternal life, all for the low, low price of ten percent of your income, your time, and your brain.  Where are all those satisfied customers – and how come we aren’t hearing from them?  

  • Tinker

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they could apply that rule to politicians?

  • pagansister

    What is totally sad?  Some folks will/would actually believe that!!!

  • http://twitter.com/TachibanaEri Patience Virtue

    I think the difference is that we have science capable of settling the question of what does and does not cure illnesses. We have no science that can speak definitively to the veracity of an afterlife, spirits, ghosts, ESP, so even though they have *zero* evidence that says those things are true, the gov’t has no reason to say it’s false any more than a claim that they are a “compassionate” or “loving” or “spiritual” church. And, honestly, people who want those things are going to find a group with those qualities, regardless of advertising.

  • Volan

    What if it said “Jesus Caused your Cancer?”
     


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