The Guardian reports that while US evangelical fraudster Jim Bakker says those who "blaspheme" the President* hasten the End Times, in Britain sacrilege remains defined by traditional lines:
A fundraising plan to hold a mock crucifixion of members of the public in Manchester city centre has been cancelled after Church of England clergy raised concerns it was blasphemous and unsafe.
Organisers of the Manchester Passion Play, which will tell the story of Christ’s crucifixion in the city’s Cathedral Gardens on Saturday, offered “the full crucifixion experience” for £750.
The offer, posted on the Manchester Passion 2017 Crowdfunder site, was removed after members of the play’s organising committee, which includes C of E clergy, expressed concerns it was potentially dangerous and blasphemous.
Reverend Falak Sher, a canon at Manchester Cathedral and chairman of the organising committee, said he vetoed the idea when it came to light.
He said: “When I saw it I did not like it, I thought it was disgraceful. The whole message of the cross is hope and love. When I saw this I was not very happy and asked the committee to take this one down.
“We didn’t like promoting the event in this way for £750. I thought it was not a very positive message when dealing with a message of love and hope.”
Alexander Stewart-Clark, a volunteer who serves as a managing trustee of the Passion Trust, which helps groups organise passion plays, said he took full responsibility for what he described as an insensitive idea.
Stewart-Clark, who runs a business importing timber, said that the event had grown since it was first conceived to include a cast of 120, and 80 stewards. “The whole thing just got bigger and bigger and, of course, with that comes the infrastructure cost,” he said.
“Instead of being a £20,000 play it became a £55,000 play and the burden on raising money then falls on us. We were trying to think up some ideas, just bouncing around what would be good, and someone came up with the idea of letting people be crucified for £750.”
Stewart-Clark said that he did not think the idea was blasphemous, but that it was on “the grey line” and tasteless. “You have clergy wanting to play it safe and businessmen like me trying to raise the funding,” said Stewart-Clark. “There was a difference of opinion and what was a small disagreement has got out of all proportion.”
Stewart-Clark said that his timber is used to make the mock crucifixes, which have a pedestal for people to stand on and pieces of rope on either side of the cross bar to hold on to. He said that he had never known anyone to fall off such a cross.