Complaint about Revival Fellowship Medway to Advertising Standards Authority


A friend of mine recently received the following through their door:

Front of a postcard advertising Revival Fellowship Medway

Front of a postcard advertising Revival Fellowship Medway

Rear of postcard advertising Revival Fellowship Medway

Rear of postcard advertising Revival Fellowship Medway

A simple view of the advert raises a number of questions for me. For example, how come we haven’t heard about these miraculous healings?

A severe food allergy can be a disabling condition because of the impact on lifestyle and nutrition. If he’s healed, shouldn’t we be putting prayer therapy on the NHS?

Austism (quite why it’s capitalised in the postcard is beyond me), or autistic spectrum disorders, are a complex collection of psychological and psychical symptoms which results in a range of functional states from fully functional to needing constant supportive care. To date, nobody has been cured of autism, and yet Russell was!

Granville died. Not once but THREE times! Yes, Granville died three times – which is two times more than Jesus! After prayer, he came alive. Now, did prayer have anything to do with the first two resurrections, or just the third? Are we really talking about death, or did he just go into cardiac arrest? If he “just” went into cardiac arrest, is it likely that the chest compressions, defibrillation and ALS drugs had more to do with the survival than the prayer? We should be told! Will the prayer work the fourth time around?

I’m not sure how a person can be incompatible with life (they can certainly have conditions incompatible with life, but the person cannot themselves so be), and I’m assuming that Trevor and Leila’s daughter survived (which is fantastic news). However, doctors work on the basis of typical outcomes – given the conditions which the child had, they probably advised the parents that her chances of survival were slim. This is normal practice – and yet some of the children survive, and some don’t survive as long as expected. The claim that this was impossible, and that god made it impossible, reduces medicine to simple binary decision making, when in reality it’s more about identify the shades of grey.

I have yet to see ‘broken heart’ on the ICD, but when it is, I’ll consider it relevant to healing.

Dan was healed of a broken vertebrae. Now, ignoring the fact that vertebra is the singular, I’m impressed and would like to see the evidence – perhaps before and after x-rays. Is this too much to ask?

I don’t believe any of these claims are as stated. That’s not to say that I don’t think that people believe the claims, but that they are nonetheless misleading. At the very least, Russell’s healing would be the subject of intense investigation by clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, Granville’s resurrection would have been reported in the BMJ and Dan’s miraculous vertebral reconstruction of interest to neurologists, pain specialists and orthopods.

My issue here isn’t the religious connotations – people are free to believe whatever they like. My concern is that this is being asserted as truth in an advert for a church (which presumably follow the ten commandments, including that one about bearing false witness?), without any supporting evidence.

Such assertions will appeal to the chronically sick and injured, and may result in them getting involved in the church looking to be healed. However, often when people get involved in these groups and don’t get healed, the blame is laid at the door of the sick person. They’re told they don’t have enough faith or they don’t contribute enough money to the church or they’re making it up or that God doesn’t want them to be healed – it’s part of his plan for them. Now, I’m not saying that this church will do any of those things, but that without evidence it’s just drawing people with the promise of false hope.

In short, the church is making promises of healing on which it cannot deliver, and that’s unethical.

I have, as a result, sent the following to the ASA:

On the rear of the postcard, the church claims:
1) to have healed severe food allergy through prayer
2) to have healed autism through prayer
3) to have brought a man back to life (three times!) through prayer
4) to have healed “a broken vertebrae” [sic] through baptism

The complaint is that there is no substantiation of these claims, and that to date no claim of miraculous healing has been substantiated when examined by independent scientific or medical experts.

It’s possible that the assertion is intended to be that the person was healed after prayer as a result of receiving regular medical therapies. If this is the case it is not made clear.

Further, it is highly irresponsible to claim that some of these conditions can be healed; severe food allergy is a life threatening condition, as are fractured vertebrae. There have been a number of cases in the past where people have relied on prayer or faith healing instead of taking a sick or injured person to see a qualified medical professional. Claims of this type should come with the ethical caution for people in need of care to seek the advice of qualified medical professionals.

Finally, it seems to me that this is preying on vulnerable people in society. People with chronic or complex condition are often willing to try anything to be relieved of pain or disability, and this advert suggests that they too can be healed; this may well draw them into a complex religious organisation with all that entails. However, drawing people in with unsubstantiated promises of healing is an unethical way to engage people into a belief system.

In my opinion, the claims are misleading, unsubstantiated and seek to exploit vulnerable people.

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About David Waldock

Open University graduate, health and life science at undergraduate level, science and society at post-graduate. Interested in how the Internet is transforming the ways in which the public(s) engage with science(s). Also interested in "the skeptical movement" as a form of science activism and it's effectiveness in achieving its goals. Interested in the representation of LGB types in science and in the periscience communities. Work for a well known and loved public institution. Views are mine and not necessarily my employers.

7 responses to “Complaint about Revival Fellowship Medway to Advertising Standards Authority”

  1. anomonous says :

    The Revival Fellowship branch in Australia is regarded as one of the largest idigenous cults, the UK branch is regarded as one of the most fundamentalist in comparison. The Revival Fellowship causes particular harm to persons attending it, and the ability to leave is often problematic. The group does seek to target and attract vulnerable persons, and is often found proselytising in the UK’s poorest regions.

    The Revival Fellowship’s internal response to the Advertising Standards Authority was published internationally (see page 2):
    http://www.revivalfellowship.nl/www/reports/2012/eu_jan_2012.pdf

    More information about this group can be found at:
    http://rci-trf.tripod.com/

  2. anomonous says :

    Correction to the above post:
    It appears that your application to the Advertising Standards Authority and the subsequent adjudication made on 8th June 2011, has been ignored by the Revival Fellowship. The flyer has been repeated in circulation, and has received the following public response dated 25th January 2012: http://davidsimister.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-i-object-to-revival-fellowship.html

    It is this 25th January 2012 newspaper article that the Revival Fellowship published its internal response internationally through its community (see page 2): http://www.revivalfellowship.nl/www/reports/2012/eu_jan_2012.pdf

  3. H says :

    Having been in the revival fellowship I know of two people in my local fellowships who died after stopping medication for their conditions. They did this as a step of faith. I had personal experience of the pressure to get healed and the statement that if I had more faith I would be healed.

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