The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority made a no-brainer of a decision earlier this week when they determined that a church billboard reading, “Jesus Heals Cancer,” violates advertising standards.
Thank you, Captain Obvious!
According to The New Zealand Herald:
The [ASA] complaints board acknowledged the church had no intention of causing offence with the billboard and instead wanted to provide a message of hope.
However, it upheld the complaints, ruling the advertisement had “neither been prepared nor displayed with the due sense of social responsibility required” and therefore breached the code of ethics.
Due sense of social responsibility, indeed! Nine complaints were filed in response to this billboard, including Jody Condin, whose 3-year-old son is battling leukemia.
Again, according to The New Zealand Herald:
“(It’s) totally disrespectful and hurtful to those that have lost loved ones to cancer or are caring for loved ones with cancer and waiting for them to die.
“How dare they make a claim like this. It is false advertising.”
Of course it’s false advertising! Accepting Jesus as your personal lord and savior doesn’t have squat to do with curing your cancer. Prayer isn’t an effective medicine. While the billboard, according to the church, was meant to convey a sense of hope, Pastor Lyle Penisula actually believes that Jesus can cure cancer. Why oh why does he believe this?
In a statement, the church said, “Our belief is substantiated by the fact six people within our congregation have testified to Jesus healing them from cancer.”
Six whole people! Can I assume that none of these people had any outside medical treatment? That it was the ethereal power of Jesus? To be fair, the article doesn’t go into the medical history of these six people, but I think it’s safe to say that science journals would have been blowing up if there was good evidence to support it.
It was wildly irresponsible for this church to advertise that it can deliver us from cancer. It preys on people who are at their most vulnerable, as the ASA pointed out. Why go through chemo or radiation when you can pray the cancer away? I understand the instinct to want to save loved ones from the ordeal of treatment, or to look for a miracle if the treatments are not effective. But reality doesn’t work like that. People with cancer need actual, real life medication, pure and simple.
There is more to it, though. The billboard is also insulting to every person on the planet who has ever had cancer. To tell anyone that they had to go through all the pain and suffering because they didn’t believe the right thing just shows an utter lack of compassion. It’s gross and unnecessary.
Kudos to the Advertising Standards Authority for making the right decision. I have no doubt that its decision will eventually save an earthly life. And that’s what matters.
Image credit: br8w