Nigerian church ordered to stop faith healing ads

Filed on February 4, 2011

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s advertising authority on Thursday ordered a Nigerian church to stop making claims on national television that it can treat diseases such AIDS through faith healing.

The ruling was made after anti-AIDS campaigners filed a complaint against Christ Embassy, a charismatic church based in Nigeria, which has paid-for programmes on the private channel on Sunday mornings featuring people recounting how they have been cured by the church.

“The message that is communicated to the audiences/viewers is that joining the Christ Embassy or its Healing School, or associating with it or attending its “faith healing sessions” will lead to its Pastor(s) transferring God’s healing powers to anyone who suffers from the list of diseases that are read out or announced in the programme,” the authority said in its ruling.

The church was then ordered to withdraw the advert from the station immediately.

More than 10 percent of South Africa’s 50-million strong population is HIV positive.

The Treatment Action Campaign, the country’s main anti-AIDS lobby, said they lodged a complaint after it received a report that a woman with drug resistant tuberculosis, who had made significant progress on her medical treatment, gave up her medication because she believed Christ Embassy had cured her.

“She consequently became ill with XDR TB again and died but only after transmitting the disease to her children. Quackery of this nature is not merely misleading. It is life-destroying,” said the organisation.

The TAC together with the Southen African HIV Clinicians Society welcomed the ruling.

“Faith-based organisations can and do play an important role in supporting HIV-infected people in accessing and taking such treatments.

“However, organisations that offer miracle cures seek to mislead people that are sick and vulnerable down a path that often costs them their lives, and potentially leads to the infection of others,” said the society in a statement.

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