The story started when BBC2 decided to screen the
'musical' "Jerry Springer the Opera" on Saturday 8th January 2005. It is blasphemous (I'll say how below) and it insults Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. It also (neat point for human rights aficionados) insults us Christians in our religious beliefs, contrary to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Lord God brought 1,500 Christians out to protest outside BBC venues all over the
on the evening of 8th January in an unprecedented street vigil of prayer. The 400-500 of us at
alone prayed for God to have mercy and stop the transmission. By letting it go ahead, it was clear God's heart was for judgment instead. And also, although He could send a York-Minster-style thunderbolt, He is generous enough to involve His people in His triumph, which will come.The story broke just a week after four hundred Sikhs felt strongly enough about the play Behzti (Dishonour), which depicted sex abuse and murder in a Sikh temple, to protest outside (and inside) the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and to close the show. God sent a challenge to Christians to look at the willingness of Sikhs to stand up for their religion. We all know about David and Goliath, but in contrast to the Sikhs, God was telling us to start polishing and aiming up a few round spiritual stones! We know well-directed prayer made with the mind of God is very effective. However, we were painfully aware that because we are a peaceful people who do not resort to violence (sadly some Christians are peaceful to the point of pious apathy), the establishment have felt able to ridicule Jesus and Christianity in a way that political correctness and fear would make unthinkable for Islam or Hinduism. Or Sikhism, now.The BBC recorded Springer at
s Cambridge Theatre in December 2004. Since 8th January the focus has shifted to the Theatre itself. 'Jerry Springer the Opera' is to close there on 19th February and there are plans to take it on tour, which we shall oppose. We are also maintaining an evangelistic presence outside the Cambridge Theatre, which is in
every Friday and Saturday night and Saturday afternoon. The purpose of that is to explain to theatre-goers why the show is offensive to us and to reach them with the true Gospel. The outreach is also in protest against the show. We know from scripture that for us to bear insults against ourselves is fortitude. To allow insults against our Redeemer is cowardice. Rev 3:16 and 21:8 make clear that the apathetic and the fearful have no part in the Lord's purpose. He will bring to the '
' those Christians prepared to stand up for their Lord.
So what's all the fuss about?
A lot of people are saying, "Hey this has been on at the
for months, and it was on at the National before that. Why have you waited till now to make a fuss?" Well, the critics said it was "blasphemous, vulgar and salacious" and I don't know that many Christians prepared to fork out fifty quid to be offended. But reading the critics hardly prepared me for the enormity of it. I saw a preview on the afternoon of 8th January courtesy of a Sunday newspaper. It was more disgusting, more blasphemous, more crass and more offensive than I could ever have imagined. I was, and still am, angry that such a gratuitously nasty, hateful, spiteful and blasphemous piece of work is being performed in our land, let alone that it was national television. It being on in a London Theatre offends me, just as much as a murder or rape happening being closed doors offends me. And more to the point, those crimes offend Almighty God.The idea, of course, is that a Jerry Springer chat show could be translated into Opera, and that instead of people screaming at each other in speech, they could do so in song. Then make it daring and 'adult' (that means puerile) by adding in all the swearing deleted from the real 'Springer' - and more. So, in Act 1, various emotionally-challenged participants turn up to sing obscenities at each other and parade their sexual deviancy. There is one so sick he gets sexual pleasure from dressing in an oversized baby's nappy and defecating in his pants.
How is 'Springer' blasphemous?
In Act 2, the character of Jerry Springer descends into hell, where the weirdos from Act 1 now become Biblical characters and take part in another Jerry Springer show. There is a shouting (singing) match between Jesus and Satan, Jesus says He is 'a little bit gay' and Mary rants at Jesus for abandoning her by dying on the cross. The Saviour of the world is told in his duet with Satan to "F*** off", while He sings "Talk to the stigmata". So even His wounds are ridiculed. God the Father emerges as an old fool who needs therapy, and Jerry Springer becomes an alternative saviour. Which makes David Soul's character the Antichrist, of course.What I could not fail to notice that every character gets a change of clothes from Act 1 to Act 2, so as to distance themselves in part from whom they played before, except Jerry Springer and, you'll never guess, Jesus. Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords, God incarnate who lived a perfect life and suffered on the cross for the sins of the world, is the perv in a nappy. People connected with the show are saying it was a nappy in Act 1, now it's a loincloth. It still looks like a nappy to me and the guy who plays Jesus hardly resembles Tarzan. In any case, finally Springer tells my Saviour, "Jesus, grow up and put some clothes on". With blasphemies and expletives, of course. It's an 'adult' show.God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, is portrayed as an inadequate who is called upon to answer Satan's grievances. He needs a shoulder to cry on and it's Jerry Springer's. "Jerry eleison" means "Jerry have mercy" and is a mockery of "Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison" (Lord, Christ have mercy). Any of this would make the show blasphemous and offensive to God and to Christians. And by the way, to all of those liberal wiseacres who have said there is a deeply 'moral message' in 'Springer', get real. Yes, trash-TV is pretty crass, but this show hardly offers some wonderful, uplifting alternative. Jerry's "Yin, Yang, no wrong, no right" is not a moral, let alone a Christian message. It's amoral. Jesus Christ said "Keep the Commandments" and first of all, "Love the Lord thy God". That's where morality starts.
Don't you support free speech?
Be sure we Christians support free speech. That's why we oppose the Governments' plans for a law against 'stirring up religious hatred.' That is the real attack on free speech. And they accuse us of wanting censorship. We should all be free to criticise one another's religion in decent, respectful, moderate tones. If we are for good, then presumably we are against evil. And no law will ever stop Christians preaching the Gospel. We have to do it. We are commanded to by our Saviour. If the Government enact their wretched 'religious hatred' clause, I know of a few Christian leaders who will be preaching against sin, Islam, Hinduism, or whatever, the day the Government's 'Serious Crime and Disorder Act' comes into force. We shall have to ensure that we are the first martyrs in court, because a certain Mr Nicholas Griffin will be trying to get there before us. So the production company and those going to the Cambridge Theatre, and those who put 'Springer' on TV, and those who watched it, aren't striking a blow for free speech. Free speech is not an unqualified human right, it is limited. It brings responsibilities, and the causing of gratuitous offence is hardly the hallmark of a civilised society. No civilised person would deliberately insult a stranger in the street. So why would someone want to insult God, Jesus Christ, and Christian believers? The only reason I can come up with is that they actually hate God, Jesus Christ, and Christian believers. Otherwise, they would stop, from normal human decency. Consider: "I'm sorry, but your constant talking about 'blacks' offends me." "I don't understand why." "Just take it from me, it does, OK?" Here's one response: "Oh, well I don't understand why, but in deference to you, I'll stop." And here's another: "Well, I don't understand why, so I'll keep doing it." Which is the more civilised response?
So what now?
You can still protest through the official channels: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the BBC on 08700 100222. However, post-broadcast it is better to email email@example.com or phone Ofcom on 0845 456 3000. You could also Email the Director General: firstname.lastname@example.org (please send a copy of any complaints to email@example.com .) Although your protest will be counted, the BBC will send you a load of platitudes back and Ofcom will go away and think about it. Neither the BBC nor Ofcom care what you think anyway. Normal protests are channelled in such a way as to be ignored. That's why we wrote direct to Roly Keating, Controller of BBC, Jana Bennett, head of BBC TV. These execs were so grossed off by ordinary people having the brass neck to write to them at home that they let the Mail on Sunday put out an untrue story that Keating had received death threats and had gone into hiding. That story was, as Jana Bennett said on Radio 4's Today Programme on 11th December, 'overstated' and Roly Keating said on Premier Radio on Sunday 23rd January that it was 'exaggerated'. Thanks to the BBC, we now have video evidence of the entire Jerry Springer the Opera. I and Christian Voice intend to bring charges of blasphemy against those most responsible, from the Chairman of Governors of the BBC down to those involved with producing and staging it at the Cambridge Theatre where it was recorded. The last time the blasphemy law was used in
was in 1977, when Gay News and its owners were convicted in the case of a poem centring on homosexual fantasies about Jesus on the cross. Lord Scarman, speaking in the House of Lords judgment in the 'Gay News case', endorsed the definition of blasphemy found in Stephen's Digest of the Criminal Law, which defines blasphemy as "any contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ or the Bible, or the formularies of the Church of England as by law established." His Lordship went on: "It is not blasphemous to speak or publish opinions hostile to the Christian faith or to deny the existence of God if the publication is couched in decent or temperate language." It's that freedom of speech vs gratuitous offence point again. By the way, the cases of Otto Preminger Institut vs
and Wingrove vs
established that blasphemy law is not just in tune with, but necessary under the European Convention on Human Rights.Please pray that Almighty God will go before and glorify His name through our humble efforts. Sure, God does not us to stand up for Him, or for anything He does. But for His great purpose He chose to become one of us, and even today He calls us to fellowship with Him and to be His witnesses on earth. To let His holy and wonderful name be blasphemed and slandered brings judgment on our land and we care about that. If we raise not a squeak of protest, we become complicit in that crime. Thank God that He brought hundreds of faithful Christians out on the streets to defend their Saviour's name on 8th January. May that just be a beginning. May Almighty God put some backbone into Christian men. May He confound the stereotype of Christians as a lily-livered bunch of wimps, stuck in their holy clubs on Sunday, letting the world go to hell without a whimper. May God bless our street vigils and our blasphemy action. Lord, be glorified!