Northern Ireland town bans ‘blasphemous’ Bible comedy play
A local council in Northern Ireland on Thursday announced the cancellation of a play based on the Bible following complaints by Christian conservatives that it was blasphemous.
“As the guardians of all that is right in society we have got to take a stand somewhere and that is what happened in this instance,” explained Fraser Agnew, the mayor of Newtownabbey, a suburb of north Belfast.
The council — which is run by the protestant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) founded by the firebrand reverend Ian Paisley — took the decision to ban “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)”, due to be staged in the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey later this month, following complaints.
“Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston (the Hollywood actor)?” asked the California-based Reduced Shakespeare Company’s production.
The company had earlier promised: “Whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, atheist or Jedi, you will be tickled by the RSC’s romp through old-time religion.”
A spokesman for the province’s Arts Council regretted the decision to ban the show.
“The Arts Council firmly believes in the artist’s right to freedom of expression and would always defend an audience’s right to attend a show and make up their own mind on its value and merit,” said a spokeswoman.
Around 150 of the 800 seats for the two performances, scheduled for January 29 and 30, had been sold.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]