Trouble in Southend
A Christian bookshop owner in Southend has joined forces with Stephen Green to try to stop JS: TO being shown at the Cliffs Pavilion.
Paul Slennett, of Southend Christian Books, told the Southend Echo,
It makes me feel sick. To a Christian, Jesus Christ is the most precious person on Earth. To see him dressed in a nappy saying he’s slightly gay, it’s abhorrent. I don’t want to take the council to court, but I don’t want to them to put it on.
Slennett is supporting Christian Voice in its expensive blasphemy prosecution against Avalon, the Cliffs Pavilion, and Southend Council. His group has also been leafletting theatre goers during the busy pantomime season.
The council are showing no signs of backing down, however. Andrew Lewis, Southend’s assistant director of cultural services has written to Slennett:
I am genuinely sorry if you feel this show is inappropriate. However, there are no plans to cancel this production and it is the council’s belief that it should not act as a censor in this matter.
Ann Holland, the council’s portfolio holder for culture, told a gathering of 50 protesting Christians that the show was a parody of the Jerry Springer TV show and not a direct criticism of Christianity itself.
Echo columnist Carl Eve has also strongly criticised the protestors:
They’re giving Christianity a bad name, that small group of self-appointed moral crusaders who take the fun out of fundamentalism.
The pity is many non-Christians will read the opinions of Messrs Green and Slennett and assume they represent the authentic voice of Christianity today. Nothing could be further from the truth.
With the council standing firm and the local paper on side, it looks like the Southend protestors have already had their Jerry Springer moment.
(Thanks to Carl Eve)
EXTRA: This is not the first time Paul Slennett has tried to use the blasphemy law against publications he disagrees with. Back in 1998 he enlisted a Christian lawyer to try to prosecute Canongate for the “blasphemous” introductions to its Pocket Canons series of books from the King James Bible.
And back in 1988 Slennett spent thousands of pounds to have Royal Mail envelopes stamped with a postmark reading “Jesus is Alive” for six weeks.