22nd March 2010
Leading classical music radio station, Classic FM, have dropped all their promotion of Eric Idle's 'Not the Messiah', in response to a deluge of complaints from Christian listeners.
It took a couple of hours this morning for Classic FM executives to realise they had made a terrible mistake in promoting it.
Faced with hundreds of distraught emails sent over the weekend, and bombarded with so many telephone calls they stopped taking them, managing director Darren Henley ditched 'Not the Messiah' quicker than you can say 'Whose bright idea was that?'
The radio station, which attracts 5.5 million listeners, advertised a competition to win tickets to see a film of 'Not the Messiah' over the weekend. The competition was also advertised on the Classic FM website.
But listeners were not amused to find their radio station promoting a militant atheist production insulting Jesus Christ and doing violence to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus in the run-up to Easter. By 10am on Monday morning the competition was over and all reference to 'Not the Messiah', including images from the show, had been removed from the website..
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:
'I congratulate Classic FM's Managing Director Darren Henley on doing the right thing and ending all reference to this divisive and offensive event on the radio station and website.
'I am also pleased that Christian Voice was able to play a small part in explaining to Mr Henley the offence caused by the station's promotion of Eric Idle's atheist rant.
'The trailers for 'Not the Messiah' show that it is not particularly good and going to it will probably be an evening wasted. It seems to have been something of a vanity production for Idle, a bit like the young man who hires the Albert Hall so he can give a concert where he plays or sings less than convincingly.
'Classic FM has a good reputation, particularly in the amount of Christian music it plays. In the run-up to Christmas it is a particular joy to listen to. But during the rest of the year, the influence of Christianity on music-making is inescapable.
'We give all the praise to God for the change of heart at Classic FM and we hope and pray they will be more discerning in future.'