Church to destroy 'holy oil' newsletter

By Heather McCracken

Bishop Victor Silva says using the oil is an act of faith, and faith can help in the restorative process.
Bishop Victor Silva says using the oil is an act of faith, and faith can help in the restorative process.

A church has agreed to destroy copies of a newsletter promoting a controversial "holy oil" after a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority.

But the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) has denied any wrongdoing and continues to make claims on its website about the oil's healing powers.

The complainant to the ASA, K Batty, said the newsletter did not meet advertising guidelines on therapeutic claims.

In response to the complaint the church said it would stop further delivery of the newsletter and destroy all remaining copies, and would seek external advice before advertising again.

But the church's leader Bishop Victor Silva told the ASA he did not believe there was any breach of the Medicines Act or advertising standards.

"We don't claim that our holy oil has healing powers but we believe that God can work miracles and that faith in God can result in miraculous healing," his response said.

"The oil itself is not administered for a therapeutic purpose and is not a medicine, and we don't ever make therapeutic claims about the oil itself - only about God and His mercy and the power of faith. Anointing with the oil is an act of faith."

The ASA accepted the church's undertaking to stop distributing the newsletter and considered the matter settled.

Bishop Silva told APNZ the church did not agree with the complaint, but in good faith stopped distributing the newspaper.

"We want the focus to be on God and His miraculous healing powers, and the power of faith, not our oil or our newspaper."

The church's website still carries endorsements from people about the healing power of holy oil.

One said her grandson's eczema had been cured after using holy oil. "Within 3 days faithfully applying the Holy Oil on my grandson, the eczema disappeared completely."

The church's eight-page newsletter, distributed in March, said the oil was "chosen by God as an instrument of faith to heal the sick".

"Learn how to use it to anoint the sick, the emotionally depressed, your loved ones and family, your workplace and objects that represent difficulties or challenges in your life."

In one of the articles, a church member claimed it had helped cure a pancreatic tumour.

"After anointing herself for a period of time with the oil, [she] went back to the doctors for a check-up. The doctors couldn't find anything! No trace of the tumour was detected."

A footnote at the bottom of the advertisement stated: "The UCKG Help Centre does not claim to heal people but believes that God can through the power of faith. Always follow your doctor's instruction."

Bishop Silva told the NZ Herald in March that the church did not sell the oil, but gave it away at a special event.

He said anyone presenting at church with an illness was advised to seek a medical diagnosis and anyone claiming to have been healed while attending a church service was also referred to their doctor.

- NZ Herald

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