TV ad for religious faith healing banned by ads regulator

A teleshopping ad, claiming that faith healing could heal warts and stomach ulcers, has been banned by the advertising watchdog on the grounds of being "irresponsible".

The broadcast on Daystar, a Christian TV channel available on Freeview and Freesat, promoted a $39 (£25) product called "Thurman Scrivner’s Faith Walker’s Package".

The ad, called "Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural", featured a presenter called Sid Roth interviewing a man named Thurman Scrivner, who made various claims that he could health people’s illness through prayer.

One complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority, on the grounds that it was irresponsible and harmful.

The ad claimed faith healing could alleviate pain "anywhere in your bones", and also cited examples of a woman being healed of stomach ulcers and a boy being healed of warts all over his body.

When contacted by the ASA, Daystar said quotes from the programmes should not be taken literally and that the audience would "understand the context of a very well-known, over-the-top approach, using language that all viewers would recognize as figurative."

But Daystar also said that, on this occasion, Sid Roth may have "gone too far."

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising says must not claim that faith healing, miracle-working or faith-based counseling could treat, cure or alleviate physical or mental health problems. The code also says they could make restrained and proportionate claims that such services could benefit emotional or spiritual well-being.

In its ruling today, the ASA said: "We considered made making such claims was also likely to exploit the hopes and fears of vulnerable people, especially those who were ill or whose family or friends were ill.

"Because the ad had claimed that faith healing could cure physical health problems, and because we considered that it was likely to exploit the fears of vulnerable people, we concluded that it was irresponsible and had breached the Code."

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