The complaint I made to the ASA about Healing on the Streets (HOTS) Bath was originally upheld by the ASA with the following:
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
The ASA had told HOTS that they could not state that they believed prayer could cure people, which had been the amendment HOTS suggested they were happy to make at the time. This decision by the ASA was appealed by the HOTS group and I was asked to contribute a statement to the appeal being conducted by an independent person who had not been involved in the original case. Today I received word that an outcome had been reached and the original “outcome” has been upheld but only applies to the leaflet now, and not the website which was decided to fall outside of the remit of the ASA in this case.
The ASA state:
This adjudication replaces that published on 1st February 2012. One point of complaint, in relation to website content, outside the remit of the ASA, has been removed. The wording of the remaining points has been changed but the decision to uphold remain.
The ad [leaflet] must not appear in its current form. We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions. We also told them not to refer in their ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
I think this is fair and am really pleased with this as I only included the website claims after finding the leaflet and deciding I was going to make a complaint about it.
When I made the complaint it wasn’t on the grounds that Christians were making these claims – despite what some news sources may have said. I made the complaint because of the specific health claims being made by the HOTS volunteers. These specific claims about what they felt their God could heal concerned me because they are all serious conditions that make the sufferer vulnerable and desperate.
That the ASA have reassessed their initial decision and have announced that HOTS still must not list specific illnesses and diseases is great news. They have still taken into account my complaint and understood my concerns and addressed this in their final decision. This an excellent final outcome as far as I am concerned.