BBC faces question time over Christian Voice
In an ironic plot-twist that has amused even hardened satirists, the BBC this evening provided an opportunity for demonstrators to counter-picket anti-gay Christian Voice campaigner Stephen Green as he arrived for his unexpected appearance on the high-profile ëQuestion Time' TV programme.
The popular topical debate show marks the end of the week-long Labour Party conference in Brighton, often described as the UK's unofficial lesbian and gay capital.
Green came to media attention when his internet site helped stoke up a furore about the broadcasting of Jerry Springer - The Opera on terrestrial television. He alleged that it was blasphemous.
Though the BBC Question Time website says that Green's previously unknown group stands for 'traditional Christian values', it was today condemned by the head of one of Britain's major denominations, the United Reformed Church (URC), and by a string of other church bodies.
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the URC, the Rev Dr David Peel, said: 'It is a matter of some regret that Ö the BBC should choose to undermine the reputation of Question Time by giving a platform to a small, self-selecting group distinguished mainly by its absurd claim to represent Christians in this country.'
Mr Peel added: 'Christian Voice has the right to express its extreme views, but it is as representative of Christian opinion in Britain as the Monster Raving Loony Party would be of mainstream political parties - and far less entertaining.'
Responding to protests from lesbian and gay organisations, the BBC and programme maker Mentorn said that the appearance of Mr Green is an example of their commitment to balanced reporting of political issues.
Among the views which may now need to be ëbalanced', publicised by Christian Voice on its website, are opposition to 'world government', the accusation that human rights is an invention that 'usurps the place of God', and the notion that Hurricane Katrina brought 'purity' to New Orleans.
Christian Voice has also put up a spoof website which mimics a genuine police site aimed at combating attacks against gay people.
The group was widely condemned for facilitating the intimidation of BBC staff over Jerry Springer - The Opera by publicising their contact details. It subsequently apologised for doing this.
However CV went on to exert pressure on a Scottish charity to refuse a £3,000 donation that would help cancer sufferers, because it was raised cast members from the Jerry Springer show.
Director Stephen Green also caused widespread offence by declining to offer compensation to the cancer sufferers, and by saying that he wished to reverse the stereotype of Christianity as 'a religion for women and wimps'.
In June 2005 the Co-Op Bank decided to withdraw its facilities from Christian Voice because the organisation did not fit with its ethical criteria.
CV has always refused to say how many supporters it has, but they are thought to number no more than a few hundred. Jerry Springer - The Opera co-writer Stewart Lee says it is 'a crazy fringe groupÖ which discredits itself by its own rhetoric' and has given his show 'unprecedented coverage'.
In addition to his BBC surprise appearance tonight, the Christian Voice director also makes a somewhat less-than-flattering cameo appearance in this month's issue of the famously puerile adult comic Viz, where he appears to be on the data base of 'Club Cretinus, Britain's No 1 dating agency for unintelligent people'.
'Sane people have their own opinions. Stephen Green thinks he has God's,' commented anti-censorship group Mediawatchwatch.org.uk today.
[See also on Ekklesia: Jerry v Jesus - a post-Christendom Opera]