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Sunday, January 9, 2005


Group Calls for Suspension of BBC2 Controller

By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

LONDON (ANS) -- Britain’s Christian conservatives charged the BBC with delivering a double whammy to their faith on Saturday night by simultaneously broadcasting insults to evangelical Christianity on both BBC2 and BBC1.

In a press release, England’s Christian Alliance Party ( reported that while “Jerry Springer the Opera” was being broadcast on BBC2, actor/comedian Billy Connolly was using four-letter expletives to attack ‘born-again Christians’ on BBC1, demanding to know where a '(expletive) lion was when it was needed.’”

Speaking over the weekend on BBC radio and television news, Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) leader Alan Craig said the BBC needs to listen to the public outrage it has caused through its broadcasts.

Craig also called for the suspension of BBC2 Controller Roly Keating, for what Craig called “breaching the BBC's own guidelines for decency and good taste by scheduling ‘Jerry Springer - The Opera.’ Craig said an internal investigation needs to launched by the BBC’s Board of Governors.

The CPA Leader also addressed the 500-strong protest outside the BBC Television Centre at White City on Friday and Saturday and was invited by the BBC into the building to view the program before broadcast. Craig condemned the show as being “deliberately and provocatively offensive.”

Speaking in the press release, Craig said “All normal, sensitive Christians will find the show obscene and blasphemous. Jesus is portrayed as an overweight, half-dressed, mincing and facetious homosexual. Roly Keating knows what he is doing: he has stated publicly that he intends ‘to push back the boundaries of taste and decency.’ The numerous number of swear words only added to the offense.”

The BBC would not dare to treat Mohammed in this fashion, Craig said.

He added, “Christians do not expect a public service broadcaster funded by the licence-fee to mock Jesus Christ like this. The actions of the BBC show that stronger control is needed and this must be brought in during the Royal Charter renewal process.”

Craig condemned the threats of violence made to BBC staff. In a BBC television interview Craig said that Christians are “tolerant and opposed to the use of violence.”

However, the release said that Craig criticized BBC management for “ignoring” the thousands of people who contacted them voicing objections to the Springer opera. That left Christians no choice, Craig said, but to take to the streets.

Some Indian believers were also behind Craig and the stand taken by his organization. In an e-mail to ANS, Rev. Isaac Newton Johnson of the Voice of Christians Evangelical Church said the screening of the opera “has sent a shock wave and anger amongst faithful Christians at (our church).”

Johnson called the Springer opera “a big game plan of Satan to pollute everyone’s mind to sin against God and to attract all the world into the hell ... (It is) the most salacious blasphemous play ... hurting the sentiments of not only U.K. Christians but all faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ the world over which we condemned in the strongest terms...”


Some Christians had a very different point of view to the one expressed by the CPA and Johnson. In a press release, the director of Ekklesia (,  a self-described “think- tank that promotes radical theological ideas in public life” said Christians have missed a golden opportunity to debate important moral and ethical issues by their protesting the screening of the Springer opera.

Jonathan Bartley said, “During the opera, the character representing Jesus is challenged to respond to accusations of injustice and make sense of the world’s problems. His response is to say ‘respect me’ without giving any meaningful answer or explanation to his accusers. Through their protests, Christian campaigners have reinforced the very stereotypes of God and Jesus Christ that they are protesting against. Christians would have done far better to take the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the important moral issues of life, relationships, justice and the problem of evil, that the opera raises.”


On its website (,  the BBC conducted an online poll asking readers whether they thought “Jerry Springer-The Opera” should have been aired.

One comment read, “I find that the BBC is now taking the rights of its viewers away from them. When over 40,000 have said no to the Jerry Springer Opera and they still insist on showing it. I believe that Christians have the right to complain as we are just as much as part of the community as everyone else.”

However, someone else wrote that the BBC should not avoid controversy. “As a public service broadcaster it needs to appeal to, and cater for, a wide and varied audience. Although a show like this does not appeal to everybody it does appeal to a large part of the BBC audience. These people have a right to see this type of program, in the same way as that small number who has a right to object. However, an objection does not mean a program should not be aired; the viewer at the end of the day has the final say with the off button.”

Another contributor e-mailed the BBC to say, “I think that this just shows just low the standards in this country are falling that the BBC feels it right to show such filth. Once this is shown it lowers the standard that broadcasters will go to even further. Who is going to make a stand in broadcasting and say enough?”

A Scottish viewer wrote, “My objection to this show is that it shows Christians and their God other than they are. In so doing the program projects a false image and influences religious views in the country. This is against the BBC Charter and brings the BBC into conflict with the groups it misrepresents. By legitimizing publicly funded attacks on faith groups, the BBC is setting a dangerous precedent that could lead to increased religious intolerance in this country.”

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, or He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A black and white JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at

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Rev Isaac Newton Johnson is an Indian Evangelist since 1976 working with non-Christian brothers in North India. He is international media missionary and Christian speaker. He has been invited by SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June-July, 2004 as Guest Speaker from India. He preached in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Korean brothers there. Five brothers and one sister of Indian origin accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and baptized during his ministry in South Korea. He has founded “Voice of Christians Evangelical Church” at Ludhiana, India in 1999 (A House Church) working among poorest of poor people, imparting education to them and sharing the good news of Lord Jesus Christ. (Pictured: Rev Isaac Newton Johnson being honored in SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June 2004). He needs committed prayer partners and Church ministry supporters around the world to proclaim the Gospel in India and to the end of the earth.

Rev Isaac preaches in English, Hindi, Panjabi and Urdu languages simultaneously without interpreter.

He can be contacted at:

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