Opinion Former Article

BHA: Church sells olive oil and blackcurrant squash as cures for cancer and HIV

A church in Manchester has been selling olive oil and blackcurrant squash as cures for cancer, HIV and diabetes. The Victorious Pentecostal Assembly has been selling the products with a blessing from a pastor at over 200% their retail price, claiming that if drunk, the diseases can be cured. The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes that it is ‘unacceptable’ for Churches to put people’s lives in danger by pushing false cures.

The revelations about the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly came as part of a sting operation by Manchester Evening News. A reporter who entered the Church and claimed his uncle had cancer was offered the cure within 15 minutes and without any prompting. It is illegal to advertise cures for cancer under the Cancer Act 1939, including verbally.

In 2009 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint made by the BHA about a Church in London making similar claims about healing a heart condition, and in 2011 BBC London linked the deaths of three people to a Church claiming it could cure HIV. Furthermore, in 2011, religious channel Believe TV was fined by Ofcom after claiming it could cure cancer with olive oil and Ribena. The founder of Victorious Pentecostal Assembly in Essex was on the programme and is a Director of the channel.

The Pastor involved in the Manchester case has subsequently defended his actions, claiming that ‘It is the word of God, it is in the scriptures that God can heal these illnesses and that is the message we are passing on to people. I wasn’t aware of that law, but we live in a free society and if this is what people believe then people should be free to believe in it and carry out their faith.’

BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘Humanists are strong supporters of free speech, and people are entitled to their own opinions. However, they are not entitled to their own facts, and the fact of the matter is, these so-called cures for cancer and HIV do not work. The matter is made especially serious by the dangerousness of these diseases, and the very real prospect that vulnerable people will be exploited and their lives put at risk.

‘Victorious Pentecostal Assembly must not be allowed to continue to make these bogus claims.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 020 7079 3585.

Read the Manchester Evening News investigation, ‘Revealed: Gorton church sells olive oil and blackcurrant squash as miracle 'cure' for cancer and HIV’, 9 August 2012: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1585691_revealed-gorton-church-sells-olive-oil-and-blackcurrant-squash-as-miracle-cure-for-cancer-and-hiv

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.

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