October 27th, 2016

Charity can’t see bright side of film

Updated: 9:49 am, May 13, 2016

THE HEAD of a Christian charity has spoken out against a Leamington church’s plans to screen controversial film Life of Brian.

All Saints Parish Church is set to show the Monty Python movie, which was accused of being blasphemous on its release in 1979, to raise funds for much-needed repairs to the 19th century church.

Church leaders at All Saints have already defended the screening on May 28, saying times had changed and they were simply looking at ‘out of the box’ ways to raise funds.

But Richard Norton, director of Leamington-based Siloam Christian Ministries – which raises some £300,000 annually for projects in the developing world – has questioned their judgement.

Mr Norton said: “I feel we should question the wisdom about the screening of this film in what is supposed to be a place of Christian worship. Had this idea been mooted in Paris by a group wishing to ridicule another faith then we already know what would be the probable devastating outcome.

“But, Christians are supposed to be tolerant which we are, and while it may be acceptable in some circumstances to poke fun at the traditional fabric and trappings of ‘the church,’ I do not believe we should go one step further and satirize the life of Jesus Christ in the way portrayed in this film.”

Mr Norton argued there were better ways to fund-raise.

“As a reasonably successful fund-raiser, I question the wisdom of Father Christopher Wilson even though he says that, “times have changed,” and he sees this proposed event as an ideal opportunity as a means of raising church funds.

“Father Christopher Wilson would do well to copy the fund-raising methods of many other local churches who believe that asking the congregation to tithe or to support their local house of God by giving is far better in trying to raise funds by any ‘out of the box’ means.”

Mr Norton also questioned the cost to people’s faith by choosing to screen the film, which saw Christians protest outside cinemas when it was released almost 40 years ago.

“This event is intended to provide funds for All Saints Church to pay for their crumbling building so that it can be preserved for the future,” added Mr Norton. “It may well be that the building can be preserved but what about the faith of those who originally provided for its construction?”

The Friends of All Saints Church has joined forces with Leamington Underground Cinema for the screening. A recent showing of The Blues Brothers was a sell-out.

Beth Osborne, Secretary of the Friends of All Saints Church, commenting on the plans to screen Life of Brian, said: “It is controversial, we accept that. But we have some very outspoken congregation members and not a single one has said anything.”

Visit wwwleamingtonundergroundcinema.wordpress.com for tickets, priced £10, and further details.

Visit www.siloam.org.uk for more on the work of Siloam Christian Ministries.