The Evangelical Alliance has just released on its new website an article Healing on the Streets advertising appeal. This article reports that HOTS Bath is appealing to the Advertising Standards Authority against the ASA ruling that it must not claim that God heals today – as I already reported in my post God Heals Today through Prayer – Scientific Paper. For more background see my post God can heal, but not to meet advertising standards.
The EA article also gives some more background on Christian interaction with the ASA concerning healing. In fact there is little here which has not been reported before. But it is good to see this all in one place and from an authoritative source. Here is the most significant part of the article:
In liaison with the ASA the [Evangelical] Alliance has been seeking to produce some agreed guidelines to help churches when advertising, highlighting areas that have proved problematic and indicating how to avoid breaking the guidelines.
The ASA has refused to budge from its insistence that any public advertising of the historic Christian belief that God is able to heal people physically must be prohibited. The only form of healing the ASA is willing to countenance is what they describe as ‘spiritual healing’. We presented our case (accompanied by legal experts) to the ASA that not only was their attitude unfair and uncomprehending of orthodox Christianity, but that it was probably illegal. In particular, we argued that the attitude of the ASA could be not only in breach of Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to freedom of belief and speech but they may also be discriminating on grounds of religion and belief. A recent case in the Northern Ireland High Court has confirmed this view. Whether the ASA is acting illegally or not, it is to be regretted that the ASA ultimately refused to work with the Alliance to find an acceptable way forward that met the concerns of both sides.
The reality is that the ASA has little legal power to enforce such a rule, though they could try to make life difficult for local churches. HOTS Bath has appealed against the ASA decision, though based on previous experience a positive outcome is doubtful.
It will be interesting to see where this goes. But we must remember that for Christians the ASA, like the devil in 1 Peter 5:8, may roar like a lion but is ultimately toothless.