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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 11:09 GMT
Row over Springer opera donation
David Soul as Jerry Springer
The opera featured Jesus and God as guests on Springer's TV show
A cancer charity has refused a donation from Jerry Springer - The Opera after a religious group threatened to protest.

Maggie's Centres said Christian Voice's contact prompted it to reject 3,000.

Christian Voice said it had warned the charity that accepting cash from a show full of "filth and blasphemy" would be a public relations disaster.

The show's star, David Soul, accused the religious group of "strong-arm tactics" and blackmail - adding cancer was not just a Christian problem.

Religious groups have criticised the opera for its frequent use of expletives and the appearance of Jesus and God as guests on Springer's TV show.

A statement from Maggie's confirmed they would not accept the donation.

They were in grave risk of alienating Christian donors
Christian Voice

It read: "As a result of contact from Christian Voice, Maggie's has taken the decision not to accept the proceeds from a special performance of Jerry Springer - The Opera."

Stephen Green, from Christian Voice, said the charity had made a decision to "honour the Christian faith", describing it as a "beacon of excellence".

"They were in grave risk of alienating Christian donors, their staff and cancer patients," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

He admitted his group threatened to protest outside the cancer charities' offices had they accepted the donation.

The opera's cast had agreed to waive their wages for a one-off charity special on 18 February.

Cancer is a problem that pervades
David Soul

"It was an act of good will to a charity which is doing great work around the UK," said Mr Soul, who plays the title role in the opera.

He said it was "no secret" what Christian Voice feels about the opera and he admitted they have "every right in the world" to protest against the opera.

But he said he resented "mob-type tactics" being used against a cancer charity.

What right does this group have to dictate who should donate money?
Linda, UK

"Cancer is a problem that pervades and is alive in people across the board," he added.

BBC Two broadcast a television version of the opera in January.

The corporation received 47,000 complaints before the musical was broadcast, and protesters demonstrated outside BBC buildings across the UK.

It has been a big hit on the London stage

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