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The profit of the Lord

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advertisement for the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God highlighting its anointing oil. The ad featured testimony from a woman saying that the oil healed her son who was in a coma, and whose heart stopped and lungs collapsed.

Following a complaint from the British Humanist Association, the ASA ruled that the ad made unsubstantiated claims likely to discourage people from seeking qualified medical advice.

In fact the ad made quite limited claims for the oil, compared to its full supernatural powers as outlined on the UCKG website. Anointing people - or pictures of them if the original is unavailable - has not only cured medical conditions, we are told, but provided husbands, restored problem children and netted a house for '£15,00 [sic] less than the asking price'.

Rather more sinister are the four pages of testimony from those whose names are 'written in the Tithers Book' committing them to give ten per cent of their income (gross, not net) to the UCKG. Since they stopped 'robbing God' and started tithing, they have got jobs, been promoted, come out of debt and/or enjoyed unexpected windfalls.

The church also has a red hankie 'blessed in several places in Israel' that can achieve more or less anything from relieving itchy legs to getting your man back.

UCKG is an international Pentecostal church founded in a park shelter in Rio de Janeiro in 1977, which came to the UK in 1995.

Two years later, one of its ads was banned by the ASA for suggesting that it could cure 'headaches, depression, insomnia, fears, bad luck, strange diseases' by casting out demons.