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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Jerry Springer – Freedom of Speech Is Not Negotiable

Christians protesting tonight against the performance of Jerry Springer the Opera at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal are misguided and ignorant, says the National Secular Society (NSS).

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS said: “The majority of people protesting about this show have not even seen it, they are taking the word of religious propagandists that it is anti-Christian. In fact, 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.

“The people waving their banners outside the theatre call themselves Christians, but they don’t seem able to see the deeply moral message that this show contains. All they know is what they’ve been told by people who are determined to make some kind of religious capital out of it.

“They would be much better off engaging with the issues instead of brainlessly taking other people’s word about what this show is about. They are dupes who have not looked properly at the message contained in Jerry Springer the Opera, a message that is far more moral than the foolish protests against it. However, if you see life in the black and white terms that these fundamentalists to, then the subtlety is impossible to grasp.”

Mr Wood continued: “But even if the show were to be 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 it is religious or political can 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 can be ring-fenced from examination and, if necessary, criticism, satire and even mockery.”


Published Mon, 01 May 2006