anti-springer christians boost showís ratings - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
January 11, 2005

Anti-Springer Christians boost showís ratings -11/01/05

The hysterical response to Jerry Springer ñ The Opera, the controversial show accused of blasphemy by Christian pressure groups, has had the opposite of its intended impact, boosting the TV ratings of Saturday nightís broadcast to 1.8 million and increasing bookings in the West End. Before the show was broadcast Christians burned their television licenses in protest, posted private names and addresses of BBC executives on a web site leading to threats of violence, and exaggerated the number of swearwords contained in the production by counting every expletive uttered by each member of the operatic chorus. Their actions however appear to have had the opposite of their intended effect. Londonís Cambridge Theatre has now offered people carrying Bibles a discount to the musical, enabling them to get in for just £10. And after a massive 47,000 protests letters before it was aired, the Jerry Springer opera is currently attracting support at almost the same rate as objection, with nearly 600 communications backing the BBC for showing it. The BBC said on Sunday that of the ìfar higher than averageî number of telephone calls received since the broadcast, more than half had been supportive. Figures showed 28% had appreciated the show, 16% were happy it was broadcast, 33% thought it was offensive and 23% though it should not have been broadcast. Meanwhile questions are being raised about the Christian group whose publication of telephone numbers of people associated with the Jerry Springer TV broadcast led to abusive calls, intimidation and threats of violence. Christian Voice, which says it will bring action for blasphemy against the BBC following the corporation's decision to screen the opera, claims to be a UK-wide prayer group. But its website gives no indication of its backers, uses a post office box for an address, and portrays those who disagree with its extremist views as ìenemies of Godî. The groupís website fulminates against the European Union, ëone-world governmentí, the legality of homosexuality and ëevilí being taught to children in schools. It also cites abolition of the death penalty as a sign of Britainís moral decline. For Christian Voice ìGod presumably votes UKIP and wants to bring back hangingî, a researcher told Ekklesia. Christian Voiceís national director Stephen Green achieved publicity in the 1990s for his work with the Conservative Family Campaign, a pressure group once kicked out of a church hall for its unsavoury views ñ which included wanting to quarantine people living with HIV and AIDS and withdrawing public funding from groups supporting them. In the face of vitriolic anti-Springer protests, other Christian public figures have defended the show and told protestors to "get a life". Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley has accused campaigners of reinforcing the stereotypes of God and Jesus Christ they are protesting about. And a senior Anglican Bishop, the Rt Rev Peter Selby of Worcester, has condemned threats apparently emanating from Christian groups against managers at BBC Television Centre as ìdisgracefulî, welcoming debate provoked by the opera as a ìgood thingî. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for a Christian media group, Peter Blackman, said before Saturdayís broadcast on BBC2 that the musical took the amoral values of the Jerry Springer Show to ìits ultimate conclusionî and showed them up ìin brilliant satirical fashion." Writing in todayís Times newspaper, a Christian correspondent, Chris Wall, also says that the Jerry Springer opera ìdeals imaginatively and forcefully with many of the issues of sin and redemption, considered either religiously or secularly, in terms that engage with contemporary societyî Saying the show is ìin the best traditions of effective evangelismî, he goes on: ìIt demands that we respond whilst reminding us of one of the central messages of Christianity ó that no one is beyond Godís transforming love.î

Anti-Springer Christians boost showís ratings -11/01/05

The hysterical response to Jerry Springer ñ The Opera, the controversial show accused of blasphemy by Christian pressure groups, has had the opposite of its intended impact, boosting the TV ratings of Saturday nightís broadcast to 1.8 million and increasing bookings in the West End. Before the show was broadcast Christians burned their television licenses in protest, posted private names and addresses of BBC executives on a web site leading to threats of violence, and exaggerated the number of swearwords contained in the production by counting every expletive uttered by each member of the operatic chorus. Their actions however appear to have had the opposite of their intended effect. Londonís Cambridge Theatre has now offered people carrying Bibles a discount to the musical, enabling them to get in for just £10. And after a massive 47,000 protests letters before it was aired, the Jerry Springer opera is currently attracting support at almost the same rate as objection, with nearly 600 communications backing the BBC for showing it. The BBC said on Sunday that of the ìfar higher than averageî number of telephone calls received since the broadcast, more than half had been supportive. Figures showed 28% had appreciated the show, 16% were happy it was broadcast, 33% thought it was offensive and 23% though it should not have been broadcast. Meanwhile questions are being raised about the Christian group whose publication of telephone numbers of people associated with the Jerry Springer TV broadcast led to abusive calls, intimidation and threats of violence. Christian Voice, which says it will bring action for blasphemy against the BBC following the corporation's decision to screen the opera, claims to be a UK-wide prayer group. But its website gives no indication of its backers, uses a post office box for an address, and portrays those who disagree with its extremist views as ìenemies of Godî. The groupís website fulminates against the European Union, ëone-world governmentí, the legality of homosexuality and ëevilí being taught to children in schools. It also cites abolition of the death penalty as a sign of Britainís moral decline. For Christian Voice ìGod presumably votes UKIP and wants to bring back hangingî, a researcher told Ekklesia. Christian Voiceís national director Stephen Green achieved publicity in the 1990s for his work with the Conservative Family Campaign, a pressure group once kicked out of a church hall for its unsavoury views ñ which included wanting to quarantine people living with HIV and AIDS and withdrawing public funding from groups supporting them. In the face of vitriolic anti-Springer protests, other Christian public figures have defended the show and told protestors to "get a life". Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley has accused campaigners of reinforcing the stereotypes of God and Jesus Christ they are protesting about. And a senior Anglican Bishop, the Rt Rev Peter Selby of Worcester, has condemned threats apparently emanating from Christian groups against managers at BBC Television Centre as ìdisgracefulî, welcoming debate provoked by the opera as a ìgood thingî. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for a Christian media group, Peter Blackman, said before Saturdayís broadcast on BBC2 that the musical took the amoral values of the Jerry Springer Show to ìits ultimate conclusionî and showed them up ìin brilliant satirical fashion." Writing in todayís Times newspaper, a Christian correspondent, Chris Wall, also says that the Jerry Springer opera ìdeals imaginatively and forcefully with many of the issues of sin and redemption, considered either religiously or secularly, in terms that engage with contemporary societyî Saying the show is ìin the best traditions of effective evangelismî, he goes on: ìIt demands that we respond whilst reminding us of one of the central messages of Christianity ó that no one is beyond Godís transforming love.î

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