[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 17:04 GMT
No action on 'gay Jesus' - police
Corpus Christi
The production has provoked strong criticism
Police investigating a controversial theatre production which depicts Jesus as homosexual have said they will be taking no further action at the moment.

Christian Voice has labelled Corpus Christi, now playing in St Andrews, a "hate-filled mockery".

A member of the prayer group lodged a complaint of blasphemy with Fife police after walking out of the play on its opening night on Thursday.

However, the director of Corpus Christi defended her version of the play.

The piece by American playwright Terence McNally is being staged by student company Zuloo and is sold out at The Crawford Arts Centre until its run ends on Saturday night.

I don't like Christ portrayed as a filthy, swearing, pervert
Christian Voice Protester

The play originally opened in the US in 1997 to strong protests and is a modern retelling of the Gospels, taking place in the Texan town of Corpus Christi.

Mr McNally's play portrays Jesus and his disciples as sexually active homosexuals, which has since become the main focus for its many religious critics.

About 20 Christian Voice protesters gathered outside the centre on Thursday.

One of the protesters outlined her reasons for joining the demonstration to BBC Scotland and said: "I'm a Catholic Christian and I don't like Christ portrayed as a filthy, swearing, pervert."

While another added: "The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, that there's no way to Heaven but through him.

Homosexual 'sin'

"And for people to come out and say he is a homosexual and to portray him as such is unacceptable.

"Jesus was sinless. He wasn't a homosexual. Homosexuality is a sin.

"It's a slur on Jesus Christ and these people will have to stand before God in judgement some day."

However one Christian who went to see the play did not agree with their views.

On leaving the opening night, she said: "I consider myself a born again Christian and a lot of stuff which happened in that play, I could see as being offensive.

"But we live in a world where stuff like this happens and you've to take these things with a pinch of salt.

Protest against the Corpus Christi production
I fear for the town of St Andrews which has allowed this blasphemous, hate-filled mockery
Stephen Green
Director Christian Voice

"You know what's going to happen in the play and I enjoyed it."

Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said he has not seen the play but stressed: "If there is a blasphemy like this Christians have to stand up about it.

"What we have here is our beliefs, our saviour, being vilified and insulted and this wouldn't happen against any other religion.

"If they did this to Mohammed or Buddha all hell would break loose around them.

"The fact is that Jesus Christ is being portrayed here as a foul-mouthed, drunken, promiscuous, homosexual and that is an insult to my faith.

"Quite apart from that, God is not mocked, and I fear for the town of St Andrews which has allowed this blasphemous, hate-filled mockery."

But the director of the play, Zsuzsi Lyndsay, was unbowed by the criticism.

'Deepest respect'

She said: "What we were trying to do is to reiterate the fact that Jesus is for everyone, not just for people who are straight but for homosexuals as well.

"I have the deepest respect for their beliefs, I'd have even more respect for them though if they came to see the show and saw what they were picketing against.

Protesters at the Corpus Christi production
Protesters have branded the production a "slur"
"I'm afraid that Jesus is not portrayed as a drunken, foul-mouthed messiah and if you read the play you would know that.

"He doesn't say one bad word throughout the play."

Responding to Mr Green's criticisms, Ms Lyndsay invited him to see the play and judge its contents for himself.

Fife Constabulary confirmed that it had received a complaint of blasphemy from a member of Christian Voice who walked out of the play in disgust.

But Inspector Craig Dewar said they would be keeping a close eye on events.

He said: "We'll be here to facilitate each individual's democratic rights and their freedom of expression, and that's on both sides."

The last man to be sent to prison in Britain for blasphemy was John William Gott.

In 1922 he was sentenced to nine months' hard labour for comparing Jesus with a circus clown. In Scotland, there has not been a public prosecution since 1843.

In 1977 moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse brought a private prosecution against the Gay News for publishing a poem, The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name, depicting a centurion's love for Christ.



SEE ALSO:
Q & A: Blasphemy law
18 Oct 04 |  UK


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific