Archive for February, 2005

Derby Theatre takes a stand

It turns out that the spokesperson for the Derby Assembly Rooms was misquoted in the Times article cited below. Peter Ireson, the theatre’s general manager, has responded to query from Mediawatchwatch reader Tom Paternoster stating categorically that the decision whether or not to put on JS:TO would not be influenced by threats from Christian Voice. The decision has not yet been made, though Mr Ireson did acknowledge that any protests would serve only to boost ticket sales for the production.

So, bravo to the Derby Assembly Rooms, and apologies from Mediawatchwatch for repeating the inaccuracies of The Times.

Jana Bennett for president!

A robust defence of freedom of expression from the director of televion at the BBC will be delivered at St Anne’s College, Oxford tonight. The above link is an extract, printed in the Guardian.

The American religious right is active in everything from media and politics to the books kids read in school. Giving them the power to restrict freedom of expression is a slippery slope

Here is the news article, Stand up to protests, BBC director urges .

I wonder if Maggie’s Centres realise how much they’d stand to gain if they reversed their decision to turn down that 3 grand from JS:TO? I’ll ask them..


It seems poor Stephen is a sensitive soul, hurt by false accusations. Here is the latest “press release” from the CV site:

The statement in The Times yesterday: “Mr Green … claims that Hindus are wicked” is completely untrue.

The statement by Rhidian Brook in Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday “Christian Voice damning the cast of Jerry Springer the Opera” is also untrue. 

At no time have I said or written that Hindus are wicked.  They are no more wicked than anyone else.   We are all sinners.

Nor have I pronounced damnation on the cast of Jerry Springer the Opera.  It is the place of God Himself to make the final judgment, not me (thank God).

I shall be consulting our lawyers tomorrow with a view to taking action against The Times, the BBC and Mr Brook for those statements, which were clearly intended to bring me and Christian Voice into disrepute.

The boy really keeps a close eye on his press, doesn’t he? It’s almost as if he is obsessed with his own image…oh, wait.

Green wants a war

Another article from Iain S Bruce at the Sunday Herald with lots of juicy quotes from our self-styled John the Baptist.

We have been too silent and too pious for too long. It’s time to come out of our holy boxes and take the battle onto the streets.

Holy boxes? They’ve been stuck in holy boxes and now they’re going to get out of them and take to the streets? Sounds like Dawn of the Dead.

No wonder so many men have drifted away from the church: they need something to do rather than sitting back in quiet acceptance. They need a war – and we will give them one to fight.

So much for “blessed are the peacemakers” then.

We have written to MPs and members of the House of Lords and nothing has changed, so let’s see if they listen to us when we’re banging on their doors.

We’ve looked at the success of campaign groups such as Fathers 4 Justice and the pro-hunting lobby. We have learned from them what we can, and will be putting these lessons into practice during the months and years ahead.

This could turn nastier. As Stephen Green inevitably starts slipping out of the limelight in the coming weeks and months – as he started to after the initial JS:TO furore died down – he will probably resort to increasingly desperate tactics to regain publicity. He has a taste for it now. Blackmailing cancer charities was just the start.

Broadway production of JS:TO cancelled to go ahead

From The Independent on Sunday.

UPDATE: According to the AP, via Yahoo news, the Broadway production of JS:TO will go ahead after all.

“While the widely covered but small-scale religious protests in the UK surrounding `Jerry Springer — The Opera’ have not been helpful in the completion of raising the capital for the Broadway production, they have by no means brought an end to our New York plans,” John Barlow, the show’s New York spokesman, said Monday in a statement.

Christian Voice to target abortionists and pregnant women

Fired up by the recent publicity he’s been getting, manly Christian Stephen Green has decided expand his intimidation campaign from TV producers and cancer charities to include the staff at abortion clinics and the women who use them.

From today’s Times:

“The taking of innocent blood brings judgment on our land and cries to Heaven for vengeance,” he said. “The presence of abortion centres in our towns is iniquitous. They should be shut down. It would not take much: just a few prayer vigils outside clinics.”

This is disturbing. It is suspected the Christian Voice has links with extremist groups in America, and it has already worked together with fellow fundamentalists The UK Life League in its anti JS:TO campaign. (See this month’s Esquire for a short feature on one if the UKLL’s leading lights – thanks, Peter).

Meanwhile, as predicted, anyone taking the trouble to express their concern directly to Stephen Green only succeeds in further convincing him of his own righteousness:

With all the hate mail I have been getting, I am obviously rattling Satan’s cage.

UPDATE: various editorials in the Sunday papers, all condemnatory. Magnus Linklater in the Scotsman draws parallels with US extremists and says CV “deserve to be shouted down at every opportunity”. Iain S Bruce writes a thorough analysis in the Sunday Herald drawing together various groups such at CV, MediaWatch-UK, The Christian Institute, and Mediamarch. There is also a rather feeble piece by Katie Grant in the Sunday Times – Scotland which I include just for reference.

Final words from Stephen Green (quoted from the Herald article):

People seem to want us to stay silent. They think we should remain quiet and stay in our box, but let me assure you that we will not be silenced now or at any point in the future… Jerry Springer is just one issue, and believe me when I say that we are ready to fight on plenty of others. We will be watching and waiting – and the Lord will lead us.

UPDATE: Stephen Green claims in the February newsletter that the Times misreported his views, and CV has no plans to target abortion clinics in the near future, although if his deity “moved” supporters to do so it would be a good thing.

Deliver us from outrage

For anyone fortunate enough to have missed Channel 4’s live Exorcism show last night, here’s an abbreviated transcript of the action:

Exorcist: How are you feeling?
Possessed Man: OK
Exorcist: In the name of Mighty Jesus, spirit leave this man!
[continues in similar vein for 2 minutes]
…How are you feeling now? Happy?
Possessed Man: Yes.
[a minute’s silence while audience, presenter, and producers come to terms with the fact that that is it]

It was quite possibly the silliest, most anti-climactic piece of pseudo-scientific nonsense ever to appear on terrestrial TV. The utter banality of it all was underlined by Krishan Guru-Murthy’s repeated warnings not to try this at home, and offers of a special telephone helpline for anyone disturbed by the proceedings.

The only people who could be disturbed by this program are those who stayed up late hoping for a controversial ratings-chasing stunt , and ending up disappointed. But John Beyer (who actually believes in demons), managed to muster up a bit of outrage. That’s what he’s for, after all.

Is this a legitimate investigation or just some stunt to create controversy and ratings? People who need ‘exorcisms’ are nearly always mentally ill. The channel is likely to get loads of calls from people saying they are possessed too because they haven’t had proper help for their problems-from doctors.

So perhaps you should be campaigning against the prevalence of these silly beliefs, Mr Beyer? Wouldn’t that be a more productive use of your time? Oh wait… “people who need exorcisms are nearly always mentally ill”. Except for when they are actually possessed by demons! Ah, right…

Anne Widdecombe also expressed her concern. But she probably believes in demons too.

A good (as in amusing) review appeared in the London Evening Standard. Like me, he switched off before the end.

Green: “I’m like John the Baptist”

Lots more on Stephen Green and Christian Voice since yesterday’s Radio 4 report (see below). A follow-up report on R4 mentioned the hundreds of letters of protest they received condemning CV’s actions. The reporter was unable to get Green to say how many members are in his organisation (a sign, according to a cult expert, that there probably aren’t very many – groups such as CV like to boast about the size of their memberships if they’re big). But she did get him to admit that he saw himself as a John the Baptist type figure. Not at all delusional then…macho.jpg

Meanwhile, Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show, Green blankly refused to make up any shortfall in the £3,000 which Maggie’s Centres were forced to turn down because of his blackmailing tactics. The challenge was put to him by moderate Christian John Bartley of Ekklesia in a head to head during yesterday afternoon’s broadcast.
Green claimed he was making a principled stand, “challenging one of the stereotypes of Christianity that it is a religion for women and wimps”. He also refused to apologise for this sexist comment.

He’s certainly getting a lot of publicity at the moment, and 90% of it is bad. The trouble is, this all feeds into his sense of self-importance and instinct for martyrdom. One gets the impression that he won’t be happy until someone demands his head on a plate.

UPDATE: Labour MP for Hornchurch John Cryer has joined in the condemnation of Christian Voice. In a question in Parliament yesterday he branded them “fundamentalist thugs”. Peter Hain agreed that he had “described them correctly”.

UPDATE: Blogger Nick Barlow bravely delves into the Christian Voice website “so you don’t have to”.

UPDATE: Green’s response to John Cryer’s branding CV “fundamentalist thugs”, quoted from a BBC article

He ought to wash his mouth out with soap and water…He should withdraw those comments or resign. He brings politics into disrepute.

In the same article he also admits he would break the law to further his ends “if the law contravenes the law of God”.

Derby theatre wets its pants takes a stand

Today’s Times carries an article about the Christian Voice Springer protestors, and how they intend to picket regional theatres.

Already the Derby Assembly Rooms has cancelled:

“If the BBC can’t cope with Christian Voice, then it is highly unlikely that we can,” a spokeswoman said. “It is dreadful what happened to the cancer charity. We had been hoping to have the show this autumn but that is not going to happen now.

Hopefully we could do it some time next year, but it is all still up in the air. If there are more episodes like this, it will certainly affect the decision-making”.

What are they afraid of? A repeat of the ugly scenes at the Cambridge Theatre pictured here? Five pixel-faced loons handing out leaflets is hardly a security risk. Ok, the guy in the green bomber has a clenched fist, but that’s as threatening as it gets.
If theatres such as the Derby Assembly Rooms don’t stand up to these idiots then freedom of expression in this country is in serious danger. The general manager’s email address can be found on this web page.

UPDATE: It seems the Derby Assembly Rooms spokesperson was misquoted in the Times. No decision has been made about the show, but Peter Ireson the general manager has stated categorically that they would not be influenced by protests. Thanks to Paternoster Tom for the info.

Green and Soul go head to head on R4

A spot on this morning’s Today program covered the Christian Voice / Maggie’s Centres charity scandal (see below). Stephen Green, the self-important publicity seeker behind Christian Voice, admitted to having told the charity that he would mount protests outside their centres if they accepted the donation (which turned out to be £3,000, rather than the £10,000 first mooted).

David Soul voiced his resentment at “strongarm mob tactics”, and a Christian emailer wondered how a fellow Christian could resort to such blackmail. Green denied he was blackmailing anyone:

I was simply warning people of the consequences of their actions.

Er…isn’t that what blackmailers do?

There wouldn’t have been any consequences if Green hadn’t kicked up this self-serving stink in the first place.