Should it be illegal to claim religious miracles actually happen?

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Apparently it already is.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-13925399

And from a different article we have this.

Apparently claiming faith healing, an event VERY common in many religious texts, can occur in the modern day is illegal on a the basis that it counts as false advertisement. As a man of science i find the idea that people will be encouraged to see real doctor rather than a preist very comforting but you have to admit this DOES open a can of worms doesnt it?

Can religions be, under the law, declared false until proven otherwise? Apparently so. The "false hope" clause also has a LOT of leeway, anyone with a mind to could decide ALL religion is "false hope" and try and use this same arguement.

Im not sure how i feel about this, should this be allowed?

Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want, not sure about the crazy system the brits have though

usmarine4160:
Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want, not sure about the crazy system the brits have though

Not in advertising though, if i were to attempt to sell pills that cured cancer when they didnt and i advertised them as if they did id be arrested. I think the same logic is being applied here on the basis that people may be harmed if this leaflet makes them ignore real medicine for faith healing.

Seems like a clear cut case of fraud, even in the United States-- not that we would necessarily treat it like one, mind you.

usmarine4160:
Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want, not sure about the crazy system the brits have though

We allow people to say whatever they want so long as it can't be proved to be bullshit.

Religion can't be proved to be bullshit, only aspects of it.

However claiming that specific examples of taking a bath and the person is healed by the power of the almighty can medically be explained or proven wrong, therefore called out as bullshit.

Quite simple.

It sounds like about the same thing that happened to Kevin Trudeau. It can get people killed if you tell them you have some kind of cure for a life-threatening illness and they pay you instead of taking real medication.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has stepped in after a Nottingham church claimed in a leaflet God could heal a range of named illnesses.

It followed a complaint from the head of Nottingham's Secular Society who was handed a flyer while shopping.

The leaflet, distributed by St Mark's Church in Woodthorpe, said God could heal back pain and cancer.

The ASA said "robust evidence" was needed to support such claims.

Matt Wilson from the ASA said: "We are not here to stop religious or faith-based organisations from promoting what they believe in.

"But if they are making absolute claims about curing serious conditions then we have to see that evidence to back it up."

This ruling seems entirely measured and reasonable. They aren't saying that religious people can't believe what they want, but they are saying if you make a specific medical claim you need to be able to back it.

Even if you believe faith healing is possible, you can not claim to know when god would choose to do such a thing. Thus, it is completely irresponsible to turn people away from medical cures and claim you can do better without proof.

Faith healing does kill people and is fraud. Fraud should not be protected speech. I agree with the law here, but I have to admit, it could be easily abused.

Of course, here in the US it's the other way around. We have laws to protect against slander and libel, but they are open enough to abuse that when you accuse a person of fraud, you can get sued even if you have evidence to back up your claims. Our nation has a very strong bias against the truth.

Even if there isn't a law against it currently, then there should be.

Believe whatever the hell you want, but if you're actively seeking out people and asking to heal them (rather than making sure they go for traditional medicine) then you are indirectly doing harm to that person. If that person seeks it out, then fine, but organisations such as homeopathy, christian healing groups, or any alternative medicine, should not be allowed. Allowing it has killed Bob Marley (which I'll never forgive homeopathy for) and probably countless others.

Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Although I am known here for my 'anti-theism', I'm not sure what I have to think about this situation.

1. Someone discourages seeking help from a doctor. Instead, the ill should pay him for his treatment. He claims that his treatment will heal them, but there is a complete lack of evidence for that claim.
2. Someone wants to offer religious help to other persons. For free. They also advise the people they help to go to the hospital/a doctor.

#1 should be illegal, #2 should be legal.
image

Looking at the poster, it seems way more like #2 than #1... They aren't asking money, and it looks more like 'pray for the ill' than 'praying is an alternative to the doctor'.

Also, should we outlaw homeopathy and acupuncture?


2:38+ :)

Danyal:

Also, should we outlaw homeopathy and acupuncture?

Hell yeah.

~Sylv

Danyal:
Although I am known here for my 'anti-theism', I'm not sure what I have to think about this situation.

1. Someone discourages seeking help from a doctor. Instead, the ill should pay him for his treatment. He claims that his treatment will heal them, but there is a complete lack of evidence for that claim.
2. Someone wants to offer religious help to other persons. For free. They also advise the people they help to go to the hospital/a doctor.

#1 should be illegal, #2 should be legal.
image

Looking at the poster, it seems way more like #2 than #1... They aren't asking money, and it looks more like 'pray for the ill' than 'praying is an alternative to the doctor'.

Also, should we outlaw homeopathy and acupuncture?

This sumarises my views nicely actually, im not sure where i stand. Read the leaflet again and it does sound like they are promising this will work, and although not attacking doctors it basically sounds like they are promoting it as an "alternative" method that WILL give you results. It seems to be phrased the same way homeopathy and acupunture adverts are phrased.

1 and 2 overlap sometimes a LOT. Therein lies the issue.

Sylvine:

Danyal:

Also, should we outlaw homeopathy and acupuncture?

Hell yeah.

~Sylv

Are you serious?

I could understand an obligation to put big signs on your homeopathic products;
DOESN'T ACTUALLY WORK

And if acupuncturists[1] claim that their treatment heals certain problems, they should be asked to present evidence, and if they can't present evidence, they can't claim it. Sure, I agree.

But actually outlawing it?!

[1] OMG, that's a word. Or at least, Chrome-spelling-check says so.

BreakfastMan:
Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Read the first link, their claims seem very specific and direct. If it was just "god can heal you" then they could also mean emotionally, spiritually, etc, but here they were claiming joining their club could cure disease.

Danyal:

Sylvine:

Danyal:

Also, should we outlaw homeopathy and acupuncture?

Hell yeah.

~Sylv

Are you serious?

I could understand an obligation to put big signs on your homeopathic products;
DOESN'T ACTUALLY WORK

And if acupuncturists[1] claim that their treatment heals certain problems, they should be asked to present evidence, and if they can't present evidence, they can't claim it. Sure, I agree.

But actually outlawing it?!

Outlawing it as it is practiced today, yeah. It does measurable harm. One could argue it's the fault of people who seek out their services, but that's not a good argument for fraud. Homeopathy is fraudulent.

Dunno enough about acupuncture, to be quite honest, so I'll refrain from commenting on that.

~Sylv

[1] OMG, that's a word. Or at least, Chrome-spelling-check says so.

BiscuitTrouser:

image
This sumarises my views nicely actually, im not sure where i stand. Read the leaflet again and it does sound like they are promising this will work, and although not attacking doctors it basically sounds like they are promoting it as an "alternative" method that WILL give you results. It seems to be phrased the same way homeopathy and acupunture adverts are phrased.

1 and 2 overlap sometimes a LOT. Therein lies the issue.

Their claims...
Do you suffer from any sickness?
We would love to pray for you!

We're Christians and we believe God can help you.

It won't cost you a thing; you've got nothing to lose!

~~~

Doesn't seem like they say you should abandon the doctor. And they say 'we would love to pray for you - we believe'. The poster doesn't seem that horrible...

My just-invented checklist for fraudulent alternative healers...
It should be illegal WHEN...;
1. 'Traditional' help, the doctor/the hospital, is attacked; people should NOT go to the doctor, they can only visit the alternative healer
2. The alternative healer demands money
3. The claim is not 'we believe God can', but 'you WILL be healed', and (of course, the claim doesn't have any supportive evidence)

BiscuitTrouser:

Apparently claiming faith healing, an event VERY common in many religious texts, can occur in the modern day is illegal on a the basis that it counts as false advertisement.

This is incorrect. It is fine to claim that "The bible says that X", however you can't say that "X is fact" in a commercial sense unless it actually is. Miracles have yet to be proven to occur reliably under controlled tests and therefore they cannot be stated to be factual occourrences.

BiscuitTrouser:

As a man of science i find the idea that people will be encouraged to see real doctor rather than a preist very comforting but you have to admit this DOES open a can of worms doesnt it?

Not really, keeping facts straight in a commercial sense seems fair enough towards the consumers.

BiscuitTrouser:

Can religions be, under the law, declared false until proven otherwise? Apparently so.

The problem isn't the church, it's that they promote faith healing as an established fact, which puts it under the same rules as other medicine wherein the government can only conclude that they have no evidence supporting them, thereby putting them in violation of the law.

BiscuitTrouser:

The "false hope" clause also has a LOT of leeway, anyone with a mind to could decide ALL religion is "false hope" and try and use this same arguement.

Religion isn't based entirely around attempting to sell an untested medical product with marketing claiming its effectiveness as a single treatment without testing having been performed.

The same laws are why quack cures like homoeopathy are simply sold as a supplement or with vague undefined benefits as opposed to specific claims to its effectiveness with false references to support by science.

BiscuitTrouser:

Im not sure how i feel about this, should this be allowed?

Consumer protection is in place for a reason.

Sylvine:

Outlawing it as it is practiced today, yeah. It does measurable harm. One could argue it's the fault of people who seek out their services, but that's not a good argument for fraud. Homeopathy is fraudulent.

Dunno enough about acupuncture, to be quite honest, so I'll refrain from commenting on that.

~Sylv

Sorry, I do know that homeopathy doesn't work...

But I'm not sure what they claim. If they claim their product will have certain effects and it doesn't have those effects; you're right, punish them.

If they sell their product without making those claims and with a big DOESN'T WORK sign on them... I don't see the problem.

Kendarik:

BreakfastMan:
Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Read the first link, their claims seem very specific and direct. If it was just "god can heal you" then they could also mean emotionally, spiritually, etc, but here they were claiming joining their club could cure disease.

I know. I did read it. Multiple times before I posted, in fact. I still don't see what the problem is. They are not claiming what it will heal you; they are claiming that it might. They do not say anywhere that you should not go see a doctor. They said that there is the possibility that God could heal you, and if you want to see that if he will, you should come visit them so they can pray for you. I honestly see no harm in that.

BreakfastMan:
Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Here's the deal; it's a big fat lie. Even if god exists, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he actually heals people. Saying that you may be healed by god is a falsehood, and those are pretty generally illegal in advertising.

First of all the bible itself says that the faith healings would stop after the first century christians had passed away. So to say that Jehovah would heal those would be a false claim. Mainly because what theyare really saying is that because you didnt get better its because either Jehovah wanted you dead for his purposes or because you didnt jave enought faith in him. Both of which I believe is completely wrong understanding of what Jehovah truley wants for humans period.
Secoundly I believe that this should also apply for herbal medicines too long have I seen these pedlers of thier cures hurt people and stealing others money. Dont get me wrong the majority of the people who sell and treat people are good. But that does not mean that thier arnt ones who abuse people with claims that cant work. Not only that I know these medicines are strong and have huge effects on the body so when you start using them without control that has a real effect on peoples health. Off my soapbox now just thought I'd like to add that point into the disscusion. what do you guys think?

Elcarsh:

BreakfastMan:
Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Here's the deal; it's a big fat lie. Even if god exists, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he actually heals people. Saying that you may be healed by god is a falsehood, and those are pretty generally illegal in advertising.

How is that a falsehood? If that was the case, then it would be alright to claim that God does not exist (he is a falsehood), since there is no evidence towards his existence. But, people on this forum generally argue against making claims like that, calling them faith-based and illogical. They acknowledge that God could exist (even if they think it is most likely he does not). So, why is it suddenly wrong to acknowledge that faith-based healing could exist, and that a church that says God could heal you (not "will", could) suddenly happens to be immoral/wrong? It does not make sense to me.

Danyal:
[snip]

But I'm not sure what they claim. If they claim their product will have certain effects and it doesn't have those effects; you're right, punish them.

If they sell their product without making those claims and with a big DOESN'T WORK sign on them... I don't see the problem.

Well, I don't really feel inclined to look for sources, so take my word for it or not, but afaik, two major reason homeopathy is such a good business is because 1): Anyone can claim to be one, since it's not a protected title, and 2): They are allowed to administer placebos without being required to actually admit that their medicine is indeed nothing but placebos.

I guess I should backpedal a bit: Homeopathy does work just as well as a placebo would, usually, which can be quite well indeed. I still consider it to be fraudulent and dangerous, though, mainly due to reason no.1).

~Sylv

Sylvine:

Danyal:
[snip]

But I'm not sure what they claim. If they claim their product will have certain effects and it doesn't have those effects; you're right, punish them.

If they sell their product without making those claims and with a big DOESN'T WORK sign on them... I don't see the problem.

Well, I don't really feel inclined to look for sources, so take my word for it or not, but afaik, two major reason homeopathy is such a good business is because 1): Anyone can claim to be one, since it's not a protected title, and 2): They are allowed to administer placebos without being required to actually admit that their medicine is indeed nothing but placebos.

I guess I should backpedal a bit: Homeopathy does work just as well as a placebo would, usually, which can be quite well indeed. I still consider it to be fraudulent and dangerous, though, mainly due to reason no.1).

~Sylv

Wait... Do I understand you correctly?
You're more worried by the fact that they anyone can claim to be 'one'[1] than by the fact that they are allowed to make fraudulent claims?! :S

[1] a producer of homeopathic 'medicine', I assume

Danyal:

Sylvine:

Danyal:
[snip]

But I'm not sure what they claim. If they claim their product will have certain effects and it doesn't have those effects; you're right, punish them.

If they sell their product without making those claims and with a big DOESN'T WORK sign on them... I don't see the problem.

Well, I don't really feel inclined to look for sources, so take my word for it or not, but afaik, two major reason homeopathy is such a good business is because 1): Anyone can claim to be one, since it's not a protected title, and 2): They are allowed to administer placebos without being required to actually admit that their medicine is indeed nothing but placebos.

I guess I should backpedal a bit: Homeopathy does work just as well as a placebo would, usually, which can be quite well indeed. I still consider it to be fraudulent and dangerous, though, mainly due to reason no.1).

~Sylv

Wait... Do I understand you correctly?
You're more worried by the fact that they anyone can claim to be 'one'[1] than by the fact that they are allowed to make fraudulent claims?! :S

Sorry, I assumed it was clear.

I understand that the nature of the placebo is such that the patient shouldn't know that it, in fact, is a placebo. As such, I don't have much of a problem if someone who has undergone medical training examines a patient and decides that a placebo is the best possible perscription. It's their expertise speaking, so I'm inclined to believe.

Since homeopathic medicine is essentially water and doesn't do anything, claiming to be a homeopath without proper education (ha!) is not illegal. That means anyone can claim to have the expertise required to decide whether a placebo perscription is the best option or not, and just perscribe placebos against everything, potentially endangering the lives and well-beings of their patients. Hence why I say that it's the core of the problem: Number 2 is actually defensible, as perscribing a placebo and telling the patient that it's a placebo might diminish the usefulness of said placebo ( funny enough, though, studies made with people who knew what they got was a placebo show that the placebo often still works regardless... go figure o.O )

Hope it's more clear now.

~Sylv

[1] a producer of homeopathic 'medicine', I assume

Well, THAT god Meh. Makes sense. It really depends on your view. If you don't believe praying will cure you, then yaaaay people won't let their kid die from whatever sickness and get them treatment. if you do believe god will regenerate lost limbs, then...I dunno.

Ain't my problem though. I don't preach. As long as I can pray to be healed, I don't care.

Seeing as God loves to...er...hide in the statistical noise, apparently - can (effectively) placebo claims be advertised as "can heal you" claims?

If so, then while I think these people are as big a bunch of shysters as homeopathists, then they should be treated consistently under the law and allowed to advertise.

If the law does permit that though, then it is a fucking disgrace and should be amended.

Elcarsh:

BreakfastMan:
Not so sure what the big deal is. All they said is that "God could heal you". Not "God will heal you, if you do all this other crap, and oh yeah, give us all your money and never go to the doctor again". Just "Let us pray for you. God might heal you, and it costs you nothing. Why not take the chance?" What is the big deal with that?

Here's the deal; it's a big fat lie. Even if god exists, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he actually heals people.

Incorrect. The claim that God heals people is completely devoid of evidence, but to claim it is a lie you need evidence that God does not ever heal people. At least, if you want your claim to have any standing better than the claim you're arguing against.

So the claim you oppose not a lie. It's just unfounded. There is a huge difference between the two claims. One is a claim that is known to be false but presented as true. One is a claim that is believed to be true without evidence. To conflate the two as the same is completely dishonest, which is an unfortunate position for someone supposedly attacking dishonesty in others to take.

That said, I don't really have a problem with the example here being declared illegal. To prey upon the sick and the desperate with an implied claim that joining your group has any chance of leading to a change in their health without evidence is IMHO not protected speech. This is quite a different thing from the OP's misleading title. It is not illegal to claim that miracles happen. It's illegal to claim your group has anything to do with miracles happening without evidence. I don't really mind that.

usmarine4160:
Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want

No it doesn't. Fraud isn't covered by that. If you promise something that you know you can't make good on, that becomes a criminal offense when monetary gain is involved. If I promise someone to cure him using prayer if he pays me for it, I'd be committing a crime.

And it's still dodgy at best if they're not directly making money. I know from firsthand experience that those prayer healers are a bunch of conmen. I mean, those bloody idiots had the nerve to put on their poster that they'll cure cancer. People who try to exploit the desperate who are chronically ill really deserve to be slapped over the head for that. It's utterly shameless what they're doing. There's a reason there's specialised psychological care to help people deal with chronic or even terminal illness. But no, enter a bunch of religious douchebags selling false hope for their own gain...

Is it my freedom of speech to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater? What about to claim "these arsenic pills will cure your cancer" to a customer? Freedom of speech is often limited for the same reasons any other freedoms are limited - because otherwise, it can cause very real harm.

Vague claims like "god performs miracles" tend not to be harmful. But specific claims like, say, "God will heal your wounds if you don't go to the doctor" need to be cracked down on because it is dangerous and stupid, in the same way that advertising poison as a cure-all is.

A lot of people (including here on The Escapist) are quick to point out that science and religion are mutually exclusive territory. This is a clear case of the boundaries becoming alarmingly blurred.

As soon as religion starts making claims that are in the realm of science (medical science, in this case), they submit to the same scientific scrutiny that any other treatment would undergo. I think it's absolutely right that the church in question wasn't allowed to advertise this Snake Oil under the customary overprotection of religious freedom. Preying on the ill and infirm and convincing them to come to a place of worship instead of seeking qualified medical treatment is downright sick.

usmarine4160:
Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want, not sure about the crazy system the brits have though

i love people who think freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want with no consequences, american ignorance at its best once again

reonhato:

usmarine4160:
Freedom of speech says you can claim whatever the hell you want, not sure about the crazy system the brits have though

i love people who think freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want with no consequences, american ignorance at its best once again

While I agree that free speech doesn't mean that, I would like to add that ignorance isn't really exclusive to America, and attempting to make a distinction between American ignorance and other ignorance is a bit silly, don't you think?

It's not the fact that they are claiming that miracles can happen that people are taking umbrage at, it's the danger that promoting 'faith healing' can have on those who utilise it in place of treatments that actually work. If this was a type of drug that was scientifically known not to work for curing disease, you would expect people to be reacting in the same way. You cannot promote a medicine whose use could potentially result in death. Plenty have died, and will continue to die thinking that faith healing is a viable option.

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