UK Christian group ordered to remove ads claiming it can heal people

BATH, England -- Britain's advertising watchdog is forcing a Christian group to remove claims from its websites and brochures that it can heal people.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the Bath division of the group, Healing on the Streets (HOTS), was misleading in its claims it could heal people with medical conditions.

It was instructed to amend its advertising on leaflets and websites from "God can heal you" to

"We believe God can heal you."

"We told HOTS not to make claims which stated or implied that, by receiving prayer from their volunteers, people could be healed of medical conditions," the ASA statement read. "We also told them not to refer in their ads to medical conditions for which medical supervision should be sought."

The decision was handed down following a complaint lodged by Hayley Stevens, who said she became alarmed when she saw the group outside a cathedral offering to heal people during a visit to Bath, southwestern England, last year.

"I was quite concerned at the claims I found there about illnesses and conditions that this group seemed to be promoting as healable through prayer," she wrote on her blog Hayley is a Ghost.

HOTS, which has members from about 20 churches in Bath, said in a statement it would appeal against the ruling and accused the advertising body of asking members to renounce their faith.

"It appears that the complaint to the ASA was made by a group generally opposed to Christianity, and it seems strange to us that on the basis of a purely ideological objection to what we say on our website, the ASA has decided it is appropriate to insist that we cannot talk about a common and widely held belief that is an important aspect of conventional Christian faith," the statement read.