TAC, church face-off over healing claims

The Christ Embassy Church — recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) from airing its claims of faith healing — will be appealing the ruling.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an HIV/Aids rights organisation, took the church to the ASA over its claims that faith healing could cure tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/Aids.

According to the TAC, the church aired a “commercial” on Sunday mornings on e.tv in which Pastor Chris Oyakhilome claims he can heal congregants with cancer, or HIV.

TAC treasurer Nathan Geffen said a broadcast agreement between Christ Embassy and e.tv “shows that Christ Embassy paid R2,6-million excluding VAT to run 52 24-minute episodes”.

Geffen told the M&G that a doctor at a Cape Town public hospital informed it that a patient with extensively drug-resistant TB had started attending services at Christ Embassy, and had then stopped taking her medication.

“Tragically she died and the worst part of the tragedy is that before she died, she transmitted extreme drug resistant TB to her children,” he said.

In 2010, the ASA ruled that the content of the Christ Embassy television show was not an advertisement, but sponsored programming, and it therefore did not have jurisdiction over its content. The TAC then appealed, which led to the ASA ruling that found the programme to be:

  • an advertisement, as defined by ASA’s code;
  • promoting faith as a means to cure illness or disease;
  • promoting Christ Embassy as the place to seek this cure, and;
  • violating ASA’s code because it offers a product to cure a disease for which it has not received Medicines Control Council registration.

The attorney acting on behalf of Christ Embassy, Sean Sim, said the church intended appealing the ruling within 20 days from the ruling on February 2.

‘The product is called faith’
The church would be appealing on the grounds that the television programme was not an advertisement and that the church did not intend registering with the Medical and Dental Council.

“The product is called faith,” Sim told the Mail & Guardian.

The TAC is prepared to oppose the appeal.

“We will do everything to make sure that the [current] ruling stands,” said Geffen.

The programme has since been removed from e.tv.

Geffen said its action was not an attack on churches in general, but was an attempt to stop Christ Embassy from “deceiving people into not taking their medication”.

“This is a highly dangerous church and their pastor, Chris, is a man who’s constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons.”

When the M&G called Christ Embassy for official comment on the matter, it said all queries should be directed to the attorney. The church had “no comment” on the matter.

The Christ Embassy website has a “Healing School” section, which shows, among other people, a South African mother testifying that she had been “cured” of HIV following prayers from Oyakhilome.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Institutions of higher learning should commemorate their casualties

The bust of Matikweni Nkuna at Tshwane University of Technology is an example of how we should honour those who fought for equal access to education

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — that may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast.

Deconstructing South Africa’s construction industry performance

The construction industry has contracted sharply, partly due to Covid, and needs to rebalance its focus if it wants to survive

Editorial: SA will be bankrupted by looters

The chickens have finally come home to roost: if we do not end the looting, it will end us

Zuma vs Ramaphosa? Neither is the leader South Africans deserve

Neither statesman could command sufficient authority in an ANC that remains mired in corruption and infighting and at the behest of big capital

E-payments for the unbanked are booming

The pandemic is providing mobile phone network operators with a unique chance to partner with fintech firms and banks to deliver clever e-commerce solutions to the informal sector in Africa

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday