A New Zealand skeptical activism group succeeds at getting a faith healing claim chastised and the advertisement removed. It may not be the most dramatic way to do activism but the law is the law, these claims were seen to be misleading. Your belief that God heals has no evidence to back it up, so you can not actually make that health claim.
A church which advertised that a prayer session could heal health problems including “incurable diseases” has been told to remove the advertisement.
A complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority was made about a brochure from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which was circulated publicly and contained a timetable of healing sessions.
It read: “For people who suffer with constant pain, deteriorating health, can’t work due to illness, incurable disease, doctors don’t know what’s wrong, dependent on pills, recovering from injury, weight problems, sick children.”
The complainant, Mark Hanna, from the Society for Science Based Healthcare, said there was no evidence that any of those health issues could be alleviated through prayer.
“As such, these claims are in violation of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code Principle 2, and fail to uphold the high standard of social responsibility required by the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code Principle 3,” his complaint read.
The church was a bit too emphatic about the claims, stated them more as fact than opinion. It is not fact that prayer heals and it suggests that people forego conventional treatment.
Hanna’s group is made up of volunteers keen on skeptical activism. It’s brand new, launched just this month. Way to get some good PR! Nice job.
They have also made complaints about false advertising regarding amber teething beads and detox foot patches. The Society hopes that advertisers get the message and “refrain from making misleading health claims in the future.”
Even small groups of dedicated individuals can make a big difference. Other “truth in health claims” societies include the Society of Science-based Medicine the US, Bad Science Watch in Canada, Sense about Science (U.K.) and two notable rather specifically targeted skeptical groups, Skeptics For the Protection of Cancer Patients and Stop AVN
(I’m sure I missed some. List them in comments)
Here are some additional stories about faith healing claims smacked down by advertising standards authorities. Sadly, none are from the U.S. (I looked for cases regarding faith healing claims with the Federal Trade Commission. None. I don’t ever recall any. Why is that?)