Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Matthew 13:15 (Quoting Isaiah)
News from UK - February 2012
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told a group of Christians in Bath not to make any claims that state or imply that, by receiving their prayer, people could be physically healed.
A registered Christian trust, the 'Healing on the Streets – Bath' (HOTS) team, comprised of Christians from many different churches, have been praying for the public outside Bath Abbey for three years and regularly offer to pray for people who are sick to receive healing.
But atheist Hayley Stevens took offence to the group's adverts, complaining to the ASA that the claims by the Christians could 'not be substantiated'.
Her complaint was upheld and the ASA have now ordered the group to stop stating on their website or in literature that God can heal.
The founder of the group, Paul Skelton, said: "Other teams around the country have been targeted in similar ways. "It seems very odd to us that the ASA wants to prevent us from stating on our website
the basic Christian belief that God can heal illness. "The ASA has even demanded that we sign a document agreeing not to say this, which is unacceptable to us - as it no doubt would be for anyone ordered not to make certain statements about their conventional religious or philosophical beliefs.
"The ASA has decided it is appropriate to insist that we cannot talk about a common and widely held belief that is an important aspect of conventional Christian faith.
They would now like us to recant our Christian faith in the Bible.
"We tried to reach a compromise, recognising some of the ASA's concerns, but there are certain things that we cannot agree to - including a ban on expressing our beliefs."
HOTs will appeal the decision.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said: "This decision strikes at the heart of freedom of belief in the UK. Will we be told that telling people their sins are forgiven, or that you can go to heaven, breaches advertising standards next?"
"Will all Christian websites and leaflets now be liable to these types of complaints? Is all Christian doctrine now going to be ruled as misleading by the ASA?
"This decision reveals all too clearly how basic freedoms quickly begin to be lost in a nation that has increasingly chosen secularism over the Christian faith."
Sources - HOTS Bath, Daily Mail, Christian Concern
Update - March 28th 2012 - - www.christian.co.uk
Now, Gary Streeter (Con), Gavin Shuker (Lab) and Tim Farron (Lib Dem) have taken the bold step of challenging the ASA's decision, following the collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba during a match last week, which sparked various "Pray for Muamba" campaigns across the social media networks. The slogan even appeared on Muamba's team mates' football shirts, a high profile space that is usually reserved for high paying team sponsors.
In the letter written to the ASA, the MP's said: "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. "Are they wrong and will you seek to intervene here also?"
The letter questions the ASA about the basis on which their ruling against Healing on the Streets was made asking: "On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based (your) decision?"
They go onto say that prayer for healing "cut(s) 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."
The MP's have demanded a detailed response to their letter, saying that they will raise the issue in Parliament, should their questions not be answered.
Surely, it is not true to say that healing could not be substantiated; isn't the testimony of witnesses enough to prove a case?
There are enough people around who can testify to their healing, but I guess our atheist would refuse to believe them.
Doesn't this prove the importance of Healing to the Gospel of Jesus?
There is a connection to Israel - Unbelief
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