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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Archbishop’s Claim That Jerry Springer Opera Is Inciting Hatred Are “Naïve and Laughable”

The Archbishop of Wales’ comments that the Jerry Springer opera is inciting religious hatred were branded as “naïve and laughable” by the National Secular Society. It is playing in the Cardiff Millennium Centre until 17 June.

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS said: “This award-winning show has been on national TV and played to record-breaking audiences. I challenge the Archbishop to point to even one incident where any Christian has been injured as a result of the hatred from any of the millions of people who have seen this show.

“Had Archbishop Barry Morgan seen the show in its entirety, he might have realised that it is not an attack on religion at all, but a satire about the way reality TV uses vulnerable and disturbed people for entertainment. It uses Christianity as a metaphor to confront and satirise the cruelty of shows like Jerry Springer. It is not at all about attacking Christianity. Instead, Dr Morgan seems to have taken the word of religious propagandists that it is anti-Christian.”

Mr Porteous Wood continued: “Even if the show were satirising and criticising religion, it still has a right to be performed. There is a vital issue of freedom of expression at stake. No ideology – whether religious or political - should be beyond criticism, and repressive concepts like blasphemy are unacceptable in the modern world. In the light of the violence and mayhem being perpetrated by religious believers around the world, there is no religious belief that should be ring-fenced from examination and, if necessary, criticism, satire and even mockery.”

“Archbishop Morgan would be serving his dwindling flock, and the rest of Wales, better by stressing the importance of freedom of expression. His naïve comments give succour to religious zealots who are increasingly attacking freedom of expression, which is vital to protect our cultural heritage and our democracy.
“Other examples of religious bigotry attacking freedom of expression include those forcing Salman Rushdie into exile, those who forced the Sikh play Behzti to close in Birmingham and those who forced an exhibition of nude paintings of Hindu goddesses to close in London just last month. The pace of these attacks is quickening, but no one has been prosecuted for clear breaches of the law.”


Published Mon, 12 Jun 2006