MARCH 2012: Three Christian MPs are trying to overturn an advertising ban on claiming that ‘God can heal’.
Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) say that they want the Advertising Standards Authority to produce "indisputable scientific evidence" to say that prayer does not work - otherwise they will raise the issue in Parliament.
The MPs wrote to dispute the ruling after the outpouring of support and prayer for football star Fabrice Muamba.
Last month, a Christian group in Bath were banned from using leaflets that said: "NEED HEALING? GOD CAN HEAL TODAY!... We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness."
The ASA said the claims were misleading and could discourage people from seeking essential medical treatment.
The full letter sent by Christians in Parliament to the ad watchdog is below.
"Rt Hon Lord Smith of FinsburyWe are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.
Chairman, Advertising Standards Agency
21st March 2012
We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.
On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?
You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.
It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?
We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.
Gary Streeter MP (Con)
Chair, Christians in Parliament
Gavin Shuker MP (Labour)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament
Tim Farron (Lib-Dem)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament"