In a rather unexpected departure from the usual activities of the Party Presidency, Tim Farron, in his role as a Vice Chair of the ‘Christians in Parliament’ group, has co-signed a letter to the Advertising Standards Agency;
Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury
Chairman, Advertising Standards Agency
21st March 2012
We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.
We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.
On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?
The letter goes on to suggest that, unless Lord Smith can persuade them that he has reached his ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, they intend to raise this matter in Parliament.
The reaction so far has been mostly negative, with a definite leaning towards an opposing view. Jonathan Calder, writing at Liberal England, writes;
… it has to be admitted that this is a pretty dreadful letter. And it is dreadful because it makes God look silly. The picture of the Almighty that emerges of it is of someone who is obsessed with celebrity – why is a Premiership footballer more deserving of healing and anyone else.
Martin Robbins, in the Guardian, is rather less subtle;
If you live in South Luton, South-West Devon, or the Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency in Southern Cumbria, then congratulations; your neighbours have elected MPs who believe that prayer can heal the sick, and that any quack with a Bible should be able to pimp God’s services to the masses, free of pesky regulation.
And the last word must go to Jennie Rigg, who addresses the issue on her own, inimitable manner (contains language that might upset your granny);
Why should Christianity be held to a lower standard than L’Oreal or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter? If prayer actually works, Christians, I think it’s up to you lot to prove it, not to demand that the rest of us prove that it doesn’t.
Hot on the heels of continued controversy over Tim’s use of interns sponsored by CARE, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on his approval ratings in future member surveys.
So, what do Liberal Democrat Voice readers make of it all?