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ASA refuse to settle whether God exists (at least in advertising claims)

I mentioned in a previous post that three Christian organisations have launched their own versions of the atheist bus advert.  They’re all pretty unoriginal, which I suppose you might expect from organisations which haven’t changed their views much in the last two thousand years and clearly blatant copies of the original atheist campaign.

To remind you, the new slogans are:

From the Christian Party:

“There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”

The Russian Orthodox Church have:

There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.

And, the Trinitarian Bible Society go with:

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God – Psalm 53.1?

I hadn’t seen occurrences of the Russian Orthodox advert in the wild in the UK and I knew from previous investigation that quotes in adverts don’t fall foul of the ASA’s requirements that:

Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation.

as the quote is a genuine quote from the Bible no matter how insulting.

However, to me, the Christian Party message seemed to completely fall foul of the above clause.  They are making a definate statement that God exists, without even hiding behind a weaselly ‘probably’ so that means they need documentary evidence right?

Apparently not.  I wrote a letter of complaint about the advert to the ASA and got the following letter back:

ASA Letter

ASA Letter

Dear Mr Brookland,

YOUR COMPLAINT: THE CHRISTIAN PARTY

It turns out that The Christian Party is a political party so I’m sorry to tell you that we’re unable to deal with the specific issues you raise:  we’re unable to investigate complaints about advertising which aims to influence voters in elections or referendums.  To do so would be to interfere with the democratic process.  (The relevant clauses in our Code are 12.1 and 12.2 and you can find the Code at www.cap.org.uk).

The ASA Council has already seen the ad and confirmed that because its primary purpose is to  promote The Christian Party, it is electioneering material and therefore exempt from our Code.

You may be aware that there were similar bus ads appearing for the Trinitarian Bible Society (which stated ”The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 53.1”) and the Russian Orthodox Church (which stated ”There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life”).  The ASA Council assessed these ads but concluded that both were likely to be seen as simply reflecting the opinions of the advertisers and were unlikely to mislead readers.  Although we will not be pursuing your complaint, thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Jodie Parsons

Complaints Executive

I know what the slogan for my new political party’s going to be:

There ARE Gods, so do what I say or Ammit will eat you!

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  1. Patrick says

    Russian Orthodox not Orthadox ….

  2. Alan says

    Now corrected – thanks Patrick. I thought I’d spell-checked it, obviously not…



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