Christians set to protest over comedy show
2011: Christians in Norfolk and Suffolk are planning peaceful protests outside a comedy night called Christ On A Bike when it visits Lowestoft and Norwich over the next few days.
Richard Herring's show at the Marina Theatre Lowestoft on April 28 and the Norwich Playhouse on April 29 to May 1 is billed as a humorous look at Jesus, "combining childlike guile with rigorous academic research".
Presbyterians from Oulton Broad claim the show is "blasphemous" and "vulgar". Matthew Pickhaver, church youth worker, said: "We plan to peacefully stand outside the theatre and give out a simple tract about the real Jesus."
On his Warming Up
blog, Mr Herring said: “Some of the more backward people of East Anglia (and imagine how backward that must make them) are planning on protesting, which is probably great news, as that is the one that is selling about the worse so far.”
The Reverend Kyle Paisley, from Oulton Broad Presbyterian church, told the BBC: "When I looked at the flyer, I marked three things - the vulgarity, the blasphemy and the downright dishonesty of the man. We're just using our right as Christians to say how we feel.”
Mr Herring, who first performed the routine in 2001, spoke on BBC Radio 5 live in December 2010 saying: "Most of the Christians who've come to see it have really enjoyed the show. There are a couple of moments where you might squirm in your seat if you are a very strict Christian, but ultimately the show is about taking people on a journey."
The Reverend Michael Eden, of St Peter's and St Mary's church, Stowmarket, is going to watch the show: "If it gives people the opportunity to talk about what they believe, then I don't see that as a problem," he said. “I'll be going with an open mind. If he was a politician saying offensive things or inciting hatred that would be different, but, come on, he's a comedian."
In Norwich, William Wilson, from the Norwich Evangelical Free Church, is planning a peaceful protest. He said: “The show starts at 7:30pm So people who want to come and stand with us need to be there from 6pm. There will be big crowd standing to get in and we will be giving out tracts and trying to persuade people not to go in. We are asking churches to come and stand with us as Christians to make our point that Christ is not mocked and tell people to bring banners with them with Scripture texts.
“As Christians we need to stand firm and proclaim the Gospel against this evil play as God true Children of God and stop this sort of Play even getting through the doors.”
Rev Nicholas Vesey
, from St Luke’s in Norwich
, is open-minded aboutsuch shows. He said: "Religion should not be a comedy-free zone, and in any society with free speech someone is going to be offended. Those people who are offended have a right to protest under the law, and we should respect that too."
Read more on this topic on the BBC
Pictured above is a publicity shot from the Richard Herring show.