ASA rules against 'power of prayer' advert

Johannesburg, South Africa - Prayer might be powerful, but that doesn't mean you can base an advertising campaign on its claimed miraculous results.

And a collection of crutches in a church back room is not rock-solid proof that prayer cures the disabled, the Solid Rock church has been told.

This was the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority after the Johannesburg church claimed: "People are now getting healed of Aids or cancer, diabetics, broken bones, heart, back and many other problems are instantly healed in the name of Jesus Christ."

Until the church can produce irrefutable evidence to support its claims, it can no longer publish the advert, the ASA ruled.

A complaint was brought against the advert for unsubstantiated claims.

ASA spokesperson Dineo Pooe said advertisers needed documented evidence to support any claims.

"The advertisement was misleading because it could not be substantiated."

The authority required evidence backed by independent research bodies.

The church submitted video and TV material, as well as scores of testimonials purporting to confirm the advertised claims, which included "a lot of crutches hanging in its church, left behind by people who no longer need them", said the authority.

Solid Rock pastor Johan van Wyk said the advert was placed in a Johannesburg community newspaper after two people were carried into the church dying of Aids.

"They walked out of our church and walked back in the next week. The church presented sworn affidavits of healings, including a doctor's certificate in the case of a congregant who has been healed of Aids."