The UK Advertising Standards Association Acts on Scientology’s ‘Volunteer Ministers’ Advertisements

asa-2I just received a letter from the UK Advertising Standards Authority regarding a complaint made by myself and others about an advertisement recently placed in the UK press by the Church of Scientology

This advertisement gave the impression that the activities of ‘Volunteer Ministers’ were on a par with the relief efforts of such organisations as the Red Cross. Worse yet,  it appeared in “The New Statesman” (an otherwise respectable magazine).

In summary, ASA has forced the Church of Scientology to promise that it will not make any of the claims that appeared in this advertisement in future.

In doing so, the Church of Scientology implicitly acknowledge that they were not telling the truth about the size of the organisation, the extent of Volunteer Minister’s supposed ‘relief’ efforts, or the character of the Volunteer Minister’s activities. They also implicitly admit that they drew misleading  comparisons between Volunteer Ministers and “[…] large, internationally recognised aid organisations”…

As far as I can see, every particular of the complaint has been upheld.

This has interesting consequences for the Church of Scientology. They can no  longer promote ‘Volunteer Ministers’ in this way in future without attracting sanctions. The Church makes many other unsupportable claims, and this approach could be effectively used to prevent them for doing so.

Full details of the Advertisement, the complaint, the decision and the potential consequences after the break. Continue reading