This angered a family whose child was undergoing leukaemia treatment. They felt "the sign showed no understanding and compassion for people who've journeyed through cancer and lost loved ones" and that "the billboard was saying 'join the church and you won’t die of cancer'." They complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which recently ruled the sign breached advertising standards (by suggesting the church offered something other churches could not).
I got no feeling from the sign that the church was heartless or that it offered an exclusive deal. All I got was a most emphatic statement! It may have been a different story if the family had gone to the church, had hands laid on their child...and no healing happened. But they didn't do that - so was their complaint justified?
As more church groups erect thought-provoking signage, this is an interesting issue. On one hand, the sign states the church's beliefs. Indeed, Napier's Equippers Church claim that very recently six people were "healed from cancer" in their church. Pastor Lyle Peninsula: "All I can say is that it is what we believe. Can Jesus heal cancer? Yes, we believe he can." So is there anything wrong with proclaiming such beliefs on their billboard?
|Yea, baby! Who's ya daddy?|
All around us are far more problematic billboards than this one, yet we pay them scant regard - they're just life's wallpaper. Should a church conform to a different standard, because their sign is about faith, rather than cars, politics or tampons? Society often uses Freedom Of Speech to justify all sorts of public statements. So, ponder this, if you will:
(a) Does this just boil down to someone's publically-expressed personal faith that someone else didn't like?
(b) How would you feel if you saw a sign in your NZ town saying
"There is one god and Muhammad is his prophet"?