Controversial New Zealand Church Asked to Take Down Healing Ads

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The Universal Church for the Kingdom of God in New Zealand was told to remove the ad saying it can heal "incurable diseases" and other health problems in prayer sessions. The controversial church was ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority to take down the ad after a complaint was filed.

The United Church for the Kingdom of God had distributed brochures to the public which included a timetable for its alleged healing sessions. The brochure contained the following information: "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 complaint was made by Mark Hanna, a member of the Society for Science Based Healthcare, according to the NZ Herald. He said there was no evidence to prove that prayers can heal the health problems advertised in the brochure.

Hanna's complaint said the claims of the church violate the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code Principle 2. It also failed to observe a "high standard of social responsibility" as required by the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code Principle 3.

According to the church, it did not give medical or health services or others that have a therapeutic purpose. In its defence, the church said it only conducts prayer meetings. The congregation prays for the different issues in their lives which also includes health issues.

The church said they were no different from other religious groups on this matter. They believe "God can heal the sick, and it is He who heals."

However, the advertising authority's Complaints Board had ruled that the church had presented its religious beliefs in healing the sick as an "absolute fact". It said the church may mislead or deceive others who are suffering from the illnesses listed in the ad.

With the majority voting in favor of the complainant, the board decided to ask the church to remove the ad.

Previously, the board had upheld the complaint regarding an ad about olive oil being a religious "cure-all treatment" for tumours and schizophrenia including relationship problems.

In a report by NZ Herald, the church's Bishop Victor Silva said he has not yet seen the board's decision regarding the prayer sessions. He had declined APNZ's offer to send the document to him. The bishop said he will not comment about the decision until after he had seen the ruling for himself. 

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