A High Court verdict to refuse a private prosecution for blasphemy in the case of Jerry Springer the Opera will be appealed, it was announced today.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, is seeking to prosecute Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, and Jonathan Thoday of producers Avalon, following a theatre tour of the show from January to July 2006 and its transmission on BBC2 in January 2005.
In January this year, Stephen Green asked Horseferry Road Magistrates Court to issue a summons for a private prosecution against Messrs Thompson and Thoday but District Judge Caroline Tubbs refused the application. The High Court action was to seek judicial review of the District Judge's decision.
But Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Collins refused to overturn the District Judge's decision, saying the Theatres Act 1968 and the Broadcasting Act 1990 allow blasphemy to be performed and transmitted. They also said that Jerry Springer the Opera was not blasphemous, but was an attack not on Christianity but on television chat-shows. In that, they disagreed with
's preliminary view, which was to grant leave for judicial review in the first place.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:
'We must appeal this disappointing decision. The law as the Court has interpreted it now gives carte blanche to broadcasters and theatre companies to blaspheme, while the press still may not. That cannot be logical, let alone right. In effect the guts of the law against blasphemy have been torn out, and not even by Parliament, but by judicial decree. I believe the judges have wrongly interpreted
'I have heard the line that Jerry Springer the Opera was a satire on intrusive and exploitative TV before. The BBC are repeating it in a somewhat self-serving press release this morning. In Act 1 of the show that argument might just be made. But in Act 2 we had the character of Jesus Christ in what appeared to be a nappy, identified as a coprophiliac pervert, saying He was a "little bit gay". We had Mary His mother described as being "raped by an angel" and Jesus asked 'Where were you when the condom split?" The character of Jesus swore and hit people, the sacrament of Holy Communion was ridiculed and so were Christ's wounds on the Cross. Almighty God was presented as ineffectual and needing a shoulder to cry on. Finally, Jesus was told by Jerry Springer to "Grow up for Christ's sake and put some f***ing clothes on." Are we seriously being asked that all of that is an attack on TV and not an attack on Christianity, when the show's author, militant atheist Stewart Lee himself, described it as a 'blasphemy musical' in an article in the Sunday Herald on 10th October 2004.
'So we have one High Court judge say there was an arguable case in our favour, and now two have gone the other way. I hope and pray the House of Lords will uphold the totality of the law against blasphemy and allow the prosecution to proceed. If they do not, then a bit more common decency, courtesy and respect, which is part of what it means to be civilised, let alone British, will have been thrown away.'
READ: Exod 20:7; Psalm 2:1-12; Prov 3:1-6; Isa 52:5; Luke 18:1-8; John 3:18-20, 7:24; Phil 2:5-11; Col 3:8.
PRAY: For our appeal to the House of Lords. Pray for wisdom in framing the appeal and for a favourable decision. Pray that our Lord's Holy name will be upheld in this
. From the Lord's prayer: 'Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'