An advert from a church citing examples of healing through prayer has been criticised as ‘irresponsible’ by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ASA also concluded that the advert was not factually correct and could discourage readers from seeking qualified medical advice.
North Shrewsbury Community Church distributed a flyer containing a quote from Dr John Matthias who worked in the town’s Albert Road Medical Centre until retiring in 2005. He qualified as a doctor in 1968.
The advert quoted him saying: ‘In this issue you can read stories of local ordinary people who have been healed as a result of Christian prayer’.
‘I am a medical doctor with over 35 years experience, more than 20 locally. I have checked all the stories written here and can vouch that they are true’.
Underneath were testimonials claiming that prayer had cured conditions such as sciatica, drug addiction, ME, low blood pressure and back ache problems.
The ASA concluded: ‘We considered … that by referring to, and implying attendance at their service could help treat or prevent the occurrence of medical conditions, the ad was irresponsible and could discourage readers from seeking qualified medical advice’.
It also considered the claim that ‘I am a medical doctor with over thirty-five years experience, more than twenty locally’, implied John Matthias was registered as a medical doctor with the GMC at the time the ad appeared.