A complaint has been laid with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a Pretoria billboard that suggests that Jesus can ‘save’ people from homosexuality.
The billboard, promoting the Light of the Nations church, is located at the corner of Solomon Mahlangu Ave. and Bendeman Blvd. in Pretoria East.
It depicts a man ripping open his shirt as words with negative connotations – such as “drugs”, “lies”, “depression”, “porn” and “alcohol abuse” – fly into the air around him. Among the words, is “homosexuality”.
The pay-off line on the billboard, which reads “Whom the son sets free is free indeed”, suggests that the Church believes that one’s ills, including homosexuality, can be cured through the Christian faith.
Francois Joubert, a Senior Project Manager at Transnet Capital Projects, and his husband Werner Nieuwoudt spotted the billboard while driving past about a week ago.
Joubert has laid a complaint with the ASA claiming that the advert is offensive, dishonest and misleading “because it bundles homosexuality with other actions such as using drugs, having an extramarital affair, viewing pornography and having a divorce”.
Joubert said in his letter to the ASA that “all these actions are choices, [while] there is no acceptable proof that sexuality is a choice”, “is a disease” or is “something which can (or should) be cured”.
He added: “The advert uses discrimination against the LGBT community as a tool to bring people to their services and therefore perpetuates the Church’s hate against the LGBT community.”
Joubert told Mambaonline that when he saw the billboard he was “disappointed that people are still teaching such narrow-mindedness”. He said that the Church is using “hate speech to ‘do more business'”.
Dawie Nel, director of OUT, the Pretoria-based LGBT health and well-being NGO, condemned the billboard and applauded Joubert for laying the complaint.
Pastors Deric and Belinda Linley
“We agree with the complainant that homosexuality is not a disease. It was declassified as such [by the American Psychiatric Association] in 1973. Rather, not accepting your homosexuality becomes a disease and a problem,” Nel told Mambaonline.
He noted that “the issue of religion or Christianity condemning homosexuality is nothing new” but said that some enlightened religious leaders such as Archbishop Tutu are acknowledging that “this viewpoint alienates LGBT people from religion and negatively affects their mental health”.
Nel added: “There’s a small-mindedness and meanness underlying this [billboard]. It’s really regrettable.”
In a video to promote its ‘Men Only Connect Group’ on the Light of the Nations website, a voiceover says: “Forget the limp-wristed action. We don’t even know what mauve is. We like cars, bikes, planes, guns. We are manly men.”
According to the site, the Church was founded in 1986 by husband and wife team Dr. Deric Linley and pastor Belinda Linley and offers services in Pretoria, Polokwane and online, as well as a bible college.
Mambaonline contacted the Church for comment but had received none at the time of publishing this article.