A British hotel replaces the in-room Gideon Bibles with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey (aka Mommy porn). A Christian organization is banned by the Advertising Standards Authority from announcing that God can heal sickness today. And a recent poll indicates that only 37% of people in England say they have always believed in God, as opposed to 81% of Americans. Christian England, what has become of you?
The hotel in question was the Damson Dene Hotel in Cumbria, Northwest England, and the idea to replace the Bibles with the racy novel came earlier this month from Wayne Bartholomew, general manager of the hotel and “reportedly a choir member at his local church.” (One wonders what kind of church Mr. Bartholomew attends.)
But that is just one hotel, and there was some outrage over the general manager’s decision. What happened to a Christian group in Bath England in February was far more telling. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a ministry named Healing on the Streets Bath from announcing on its website and in leaflets that God can heal today, ruling that “this is a ‘misleading’ ad which could sow ‘false hope’ amongst sections of the public.” And the ASA made this decision despite the fact that the message of healing in Jesus’ name is as old as the Gospels while the group simply offered to pray for sick people without making any guarantees. (Saying “can” is different than saying “will.”)
Cutting-edge columnist Brendan O'Neill could not resist taking a swipe at the ASA’s ban, writing, “The ASA has been itching to ban the words ‘God heals’ for quite a while. Last June, it rapped the knuckles of a church in Nottingham for putting up a poster that said ‘God can heal you today!’ after the church was grassed up to the ASA by some snitch in Nottingham’s Secular Society. And now it has actually banned a Christian group from proselytising about God’s healing powers. What next? Should we ban groups from declaring that ‘Jesus loves you!’, considering that is probably also technically untrue and could promote ‘false hope’?”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.