Friday, July 30, 2010

Solid Rock: Preying on the desperate, ignorant and gullible

Here is some good news: South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is doing its job. A church called "Solid Rock Church of Miracles" (warning: horrid late-90s web design...) ran an ad with an accompanying photograph as 'evidence': "Bring the blind, the lame, Aids and cancer victims. 43 Crutches! 25 Walking sticks! 2 White canes from blind people! Already left behind!". In other words... WE DO MIRACLES! Never mind those doctors! Jebus will take care of you! And if you bring along some cash to stuff into our collection boxes, that would be great... Given that praying really, really hard to an invisible sky wizard cannot, in fact, cure AIDS, cancer, blindness or lameness, taking out such an ad preys on the desperate, ignorant and gullible.

Thus, thankfully, ruled the ASA. The reaction of Solid Rock's pastor - former bike gang-member Johan van Wyk - has been rather amusing and more that a little risible. Despite the fact that the miracles bit is in their name and in their mission statement van Wyk told the ASA he's not "claiming anything in these advertisements. It just encourages people to bring everybody. The crutches etc. are hanging in its church so there is no false claim". Right... there are crutches hanging in my church, nobody ever reads between the lines in advertisements, therefore I am not a lying bastard... But why is van Wyk being so coy? Well, maybe it's the five previous rulings against his church. The ad in question, notes the ASA, bears a "striking resemblance" to other ads for which it has already been sanctioned.  "As with all previous rulings," concluded the ASA, "the current advertisement promotes the church, under the auspices that it can cure various diseases or offer treatment for them. The respondent is clearly continuing to make unsubstantiated healing claims despite an instruction not to do so."

And van Wyk's reaction to the ruling? From the Sunday Independent: 
"Look, for our members and for ourselves, miracles are very real," Van Wyk told the Saturday Star of the divine healing he claims happens at the Northcliff, Joburg, church come weekends. "Every weekend we experience miracles and hear testimonies. For us they're very real ...The person most blind is the one who doesn't want to see. Our business is not about proving miracles; it's to help people."
Aside from the surprisingly post-modernist "for us", this is a fascinating insight into the religious mind. There is no room for careful consideration, for even a modicum of doubt, or even for expertise. ('A doctor attended services?' GREAT!). All we have is assertion, emotion, and a petulant demand to be believed. Think about it. If this guy really can cure AIDS, he has a moral duty to present the kind of evidence that would convince a skeptic. But all we're given is unsubstantiated anecdotes - testimony from the emotional and medically untrained, given to the emotional and medically untrained.

Most frustratingly, the bad publicity has likely done the church good:
The church, it seems, has reaped the benefits. "The lady (Phillips [who laid the complain with the ASA]), instead of stopping us, we've had so much publicity. If people will come because of that, we'll have to see.
"We don't advocate everybody will be healed here. But through all these years, only one person has ever complained. She (Phillips) is harming the sick people, not us."
It's time for the ASA to put some bite in its rulings. Any organization that consistently flouts the ASA's judgments deserves to be punished - as severely as the law allows.

25 comments:

  1. Unfortunately the ASA is a body run and supported by the advertising industry itself. Its rulings don't really carry much bite, except within that fraternity.

    That said, there are bound to be other avenues for complaint, especially since the claims they're making are medical in nature. Perhaps a fraud charge?

    Perhaps a covert sceptical visit to one of their services is in order?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (drezomospellhome@gmail.com).D R ezomo is the only Dr who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, I have tried almost everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, I always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day I was just browsing on the internet when I come across a great post of! Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime I really wonder why people called him DR ezomospellhome I never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing I will never forget that anyone who contacted him is! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after doing all he ask you, so I was amazed all the time I heard that from him, so I did all things only to see that at the very day which he said I will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and I becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so I went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said I am HIV negative, I am very amazed and happy about the healing Dr ezomospellhome gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at drezomospellhome@gmail.com.

      Delete
    2. (drezomospellhome@gmail.com).D R ezomo is the only Dr who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, I have tried almost everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, I always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day I was just browsing on the internet when I come across a great post of! Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime I really wonder why people called him DR ezomospellhome I never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing I will never forget that anyone who contacted him is! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after doing all he ask you, so I was amazed all the time I heard that from him, so I did all things only to see that at the very day which he said I will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and I becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so I went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said I am HIV negative, I am very amazed and happy about the healing Dr ezomospellhome gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at drezomospellhome@gmail.com.

      Delete
  2. So what punishments CAN they mete out?

    I was thinking EXACTLY that. Let's go? Hey?

    ReplyDelete
  3. whenever God, religion or spirituality is put into the mix, people throw scientific reasoning out of the window! this is really dangerous, there is no cure for AIDS. science may not have all the answers but at least it has the evidence base to support its claims.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There’s more than a little of the Streisand Effect (yes, that one) in this lamentable episode. As an occasional complainant to the ASA, mostly in regards to matters medical, I submit that the ASA has become considerably more lackadaisical about chasing down charlatans. I suspect that a significant portion of their slackening off can be laid at the feet of the expectation that the recently enacted Consumer Protection Bill will take care of unscrupulous exploiters and abusers. Furthermore, I suspect that the ASA pursued this Jeeeeeeezus! heeler (yeah, amen!) only because of claims in respect of curing HIV/AIDS – claims the ASA’s code of practice expressly forbids anyone from making (see Section 2, Appendix F of the ASA’s Advertising Code). Nonetheless, in the past, I have found the ASA to be fair and willing to listen, provided you put your ducks in a decent row first.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (drezomospellhome@gmail.com).D R ezomo is the only Dr who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, I have tried almost everything but I couldn’t find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, I always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day I was just browsing on the internet when I come across a great post of! Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime I really wonder why people called him DR ezomospellhome I never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so I quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing I will never forget that anyone who contacted him is! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after doing all he ask you, so I was amazed all the time I heard that from him, so I did all things only to see that at the very day which he said I will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and I becomes very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so I went to hospital to give the final test to the disease and the doctor said I am HIV negative, I am very amazed and happy about the healing Dr ezomospellhome gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at drezomospellhome@gmail.com.

      Delete
  5. owen swart how fitting that an atheist comments on these things, miracles is as real as we are through the holy spirit..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spoken like a true Christian! only a non believer could make the comments against Prof Johan van Wyk and Solid Rock Church

      Delete
  6. yes there are and will be many false profets as the bible says.. but there are some real ones too that can do miracles through the holy spirit....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Danielle SardinhaJuly 21, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Why are you taking offence, Micheal?? Everyone has the right to believe in what they want to!! I definitely believe Jesus can cure any illness including AIDS!! I really hope you can find some peace and if you haven't felt the Holy Spirit and seen how the Holy Spirit heals, then don't deny Him!! And the truth always come out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thats because you're a fucking idiot

      Delete
  8. Johan Van dyk brainwashed my bestfriend

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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