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Church press rejects Cerullo's adverts: Fund-raising tactics scandalise the evangelical mainstream

CHURCH newspapers are beginning to reject advertisements from Morris Cerullo, the controversial American evangelist, after revelations of his fund-raising tactics scandalised mainstream evangelicals.

Mr Cerullo has hired the 18,000-seat Earls Court Arena for a 'Mission to London' from 18 to 22 August. The campaign is being heavily advertised on billboards and in the Church press.

But the Baptist Times refused this week to carry a full-page advertisement from Mr Cerullo's organisation claiming that 2,250 people had been healed during his last visit to London. The Anglican Church of England Newspaper and Church Times carried the controversial advertisement after the figure of 2,250 had been changed to 'many'.

However, John Martin, the editor of the Church of England Newspaper, said yesterday that he was reconsidering his paper's policy and would probably carry no more of Mr Cerullo's lucrative advertisements.

Mr Cerullo's claims of miraculous healing remain controversial. But his fundraising letters have been condemned even by many evangelicals who are sympathetic to the idea of divine healing.

One letter, sent out at Easter this year to people who had given generously to previous campaigns, offers to save from hell selected family members of the donor's choice for pounds 5 a time.

The money is to be spent on pamphlets to convert Israeli Jews in preparation for the Second Coming.

'Partner, for only pounds 5.00 we can print, ship, and distribute one book. Our underground distribution network is on the alert - ready and waiting to deliver these books directly to 200,000 Jewish homes.

'God has shown me this will be the greatest outreach to the Jew in our history. More Jews will find the messiah through this outreach than any other we have ever conducted.

'Hear me on this. There will be a direct, one-on-one spiritual correlation between every seed you plant for the salvation of the Jew and . . . one of your unsaved loved ones finding Jesus. The devourer is trying to destroy your family by luring your unsaved loved ones to hell. Know that NOW, we can stop his destruction . . .

'Send me the names of your unsaved sons and daughters, your spouses, your cousins, aunts, uncles - anyone you care about and do not want to see spend eternity in hell.

'If you send in pounds 10 for the salvation of 2 Jews, then I believe God will return to you the salvation of 2 of your family members. God honors his spiritual laws. What you sow is what you harvest. This is what I am believing God for]'

A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi's Office said Dr Jonathan Sacks was 'deeply distressed by missionary tactics specifically targeted against Jews.' The letter has also been widely condemned by other evangelical Christians. The Rev Dr Chris Wright, Principal of All Nations Christian College, denounced it as 'spiritually perverted and pastorally disastrous' in this week's Church of England Newspaper.

The Rev Joel Edwards, of the Evangelical Alliance, described it as 'lacking in theological astuteness. Very very lacking.' The Evangelical Alliance has split deeply over Mr Cerullo's visit, largely on racial lines. A great part of his audience has come from the black-led churches.