Archive for January, 2006

Behzti actor tells his story

Just over a year ago the play Behzti was forced to close by violent Sikh protestors. Madhav Sharma, one of the actors in the play, tells his story to Catalyst Magazine, revealing how it felt to be part of the production, and giving an insight into the minds of the protestors.

One of the central objections voiced by their representatives, all men, was that it was ‘unacceptable’ to set the play in a gurudwara . However, other (less publicised) complaints were also made that it was ‘unacceptable and insulting to all Sikhs to have a black man kissing a Sikh woman’ or ‘for a Sikh to be shown as a homosexual’.

(Tipped from Rohin at Pickled Politics)

Dawkins’ doc provokes 19 complaints to Ofcom

In accordance with MWW prophecy, broadcasting regulator Ofcom has so far received 19 complaints about Richard Dawkins’ anti-religion documentary The Root of All Evil?. The grounds for those complaints have not yet been made public.

In case you missed the show, there are thorough blow-by-blow reviews of both Part 1 – The God Delusion and and Part 2 – The Virus of Faith at The Proper Study of Mankind.

Green takes a step back from BNP

According to the BBC, Stephen Green of Christian Voice has had a change of opinion on the BNP’s involvement with his anti-Springer campaign. They are now “not welcome”.

We can only assume that the Lord God Almighty must have gotten wind of Stephen’s previous devil-may-care attitude to the BNP’s endorsement, and had a quiet word in his ear.

Incidentally, the BBC report repeats the old myth that Christian Voice “orchestrated 55,000 complaints when the BBC screened the musical a year ago”. CV’s involvement was minimal. Most of the complaints – which originated from the southern states of the USA and, bizarrely, Spain – were a direct result of an anonymous email circular, which Stephen Green had nothing to do with.

Premier Christian Radio also played a much larger part than CV, particularly in the post-broadcast complaints. This seems to have led to some bitterness on their part, as CV continue to get most of the credit!

Beyer on BBC expenses

The Independent reports on the BBC’s expenses bill, which under the Freedom of Information Act is open to public scrutiny. The corporation spent £19.5m on flights and £16m on accommodation. Director general Mark Thompson’s expenses bill apparently included £8.75 on a meal in a motorway cafe and £1.75 for a phone call.

Reporter Ciar Byrne gave John Beyer a call. It was worth it:

The failure of the BBC is to explain where all the money goes. They do owe it to the viewers and listeners to be a bit more transparent. The figure of £36m would bear greater scrutiny.


Stephen Green blasé about BNP support

Christian Voice director Stephen Green finally makes clear his opinion about having the BNP on board in his campaign against Jerry Springer: The Opera:

There may have been BNP members present at our meeting – there may also have been Labour supporters. We don’t ask people for their voting records,

he told The Observer‘s Alice O’Keeffe.

Evangelical Alliance whinge about Dawkins

Apologies for being bit late with this one. Last week the Evangelical Alliance hit back against the Channel 4 documentaries by Richard Dawkins, The Root of All Evil?.

They have someone titled the Head of Theology, who thought Dawkins “seemed particularly intent on gratuitous abuse of religious people”. And their Head of Publicity had this to say:

We are not suggesting that ‘The Root of All Evil?’ should be banned or censored; we are simply surprised that Channel 4 commissioned a programme of such poor quality. Like the BBC, commercial terrestrial channels are subject to broadcasting standards, and this did nothing to enhance Channel 4’s reputation for often impressive, well-researched documentaries. Dawkins’ film was so viciously biased against faith-communities, and against Evangelicals in particular, that in the interests of balance and freedom of speech the station ought to offer a substantial right of reply.

In fact it was the leading “evangelical”, Ted Haggard, who created the worst impression of evangelicals all by himself. The wild, staring eyes and barely-suppressed violence of the man who lectured Dawkins on a subject he knew nothing about – and then accused him of “arrogance” – needed no editorial comment to underline the point. Watch the video clip here.

Incidentally, Dawkins revealed on Radio 5 Live that the feedback Channel 4 received after the first program was favourable by a ratio of 2:1, and that the negative feedback was highly abusive.

UPDATE: Larger clip of the Haggard video available here, plus a clip of the silly American Jew-turned-Muslim who tells Dawkins, “sort out your women”.

Bartholomew has lots more on Haggard.

Moderate Muslims speak out in Denmark

The Danish government’s firm stance in the Mohammed cartoon controversy seems to be paying off. Moderate Muslims in Denmark are organising and speaking out against the extremist Imams.

Based in the city of Århus, which saw serous rioting in the wake of Jyllands-Posten publishing the cartoons, the moderate network is standing up to those in favour of Sharia law and the suppression of women. Councillor Bünyamin Simsek is one of the organisers:

There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society

Meanwhile, in Norway, where two other newspapers published the cartoons in support of Jyllands-Posten, the national government is also standing firm for freedom of expression. Trond Giske, the Minister for Culture and Church affairs:

The government will not take action. There is freedom of expression in Norway, also for this type of drawings.

(From Brussels Journal)

Gilbert and George


There have been rumblingsfor a while about Gilbert and George’s new exhibition at the White Cube Gallery (warning: hideous Flash site. Someone should complain). Sonofagod Pictures: Was Jesus Heterosexual opened today.

Tory MP Anne Widdecombe has already complained furiously. She thinks it is

blasphemous in the extreme, as [Gilbert and George] will find out when finally they stand before the Son of God


Glibert and George respond:

Gilbert: ‘Christians are abusive to humans – to women, to queers. They threaten us with hell’.
George: ‘That’s offensive, not us.’

Opus Dei call for adult rating on The Da Vinci Code

The BBC reports that the Catholic group Opus Dei has called for the film version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code to be given an “adult” rating.

Marc Carroggio, Opus Dei’s media spokesman, in an interview with Zenit:

Any adult with a minimum of education can distinguish reality from fiction

said the middle-aged believer in the virgin birth and sundry other miracles.

But when history is manipulated, you cannot expect a child to make proper judgments.

A fact the Jesuits know well, and exploit to the full.

He also hinted darkly about the possibility of legal action against Sony-Columbia – not by Opus Dei itself, but by the institutions dependent on charitable funds run by Opus Dei members:

…there are members of Opus Dei in 60 countries. Some of them, with others, run centers that train farmers and young people who can’t find work. They also run hospitals in underprivileged areas. All these activities depend financially on the help of many donors. Obviously the novel and movie could make their fund raising more difficult. For this reason, it would not surprise me if some of these organizations thought about seeking damages.

Could be interesting.
(Thanks to Andrew)

Filthy T-shirt offends again


The Western Telegraph reports on a mother’s fury when her 13-year-old son was sold one of the notorious “Jesus is a cunt” t-shirts at a local goth clothing store.

Unsurprisingly, the Christians of Haverfordwest, West Wales, are having a little fit about it, too. On Monday they organised a protest outside the shop. Lay preacher Grayham Passmore and his son went inside to demand they stop selling it. Says Passmore:

They are profoundly offensive to our faith and the Christian community. We want this T-shirt banned. Profanity of that nature aimed at any faith is wrong. The Christian community is rallying around us. We’re taking this to the top.

The owner of The Funky Den said that the shirts hadn’t been put on display, but ordered when requested. She is apologetic:

I accept it should not have been sold to under-18s and had I been here it wouldn’t have been. We won’t be selling it in future. I will accept the T-shirt back from parents and I will give them a voucher as a goodwill gesture and an apology.

As reported last year in MWW, the shirt has a long history of causing offence. Most recently a 19-year-old Devon man was convicted for wearing this shirt in the street. He was given 80 hours community service.

Speaking to Kerrang! magazine, Cradle of Filth frontman, Dani Filth, had this to say about the conviction:

It is with some concern that poor Adam’s plight is acknowledged. Defaming organized religion openly in public is now a crime? What is wrong with England? Still, the litter problem on our city streets should improve dramatically if they keep handing out 80-odd hour community punishment orders willy-nilly. The country will be spotless in no time, a sure sign that God works in mysterious ways, even through us!

(Thanks to Andy A)