Christian groups threaten BBC blasphemy prosecution

BBC accused of ignoring Christian values
BBC accused of ignoring Christian values

A Christian lobby group has threatened to launch a private prosecution for blasphemy against the BBC.

The threat is in response to the BBC's decision to broadcast Jerry Springer: The Opera at the weekend.

The show, broadcast uncut on BBC Two on Saturday night, has drawn strong criticism for its strong language and its portrayal of Jesus Christ in a nappy admitting he is "a bit gay".

Lobby group Christian Voice, which launched a wave of protests against the Beeb on Friday, plans to sue for blasphemy.

Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: "We will probably bring a private prosecution against them for the common law offence of blasphemy."

Senior BBC executives, including the controller of BBC Two, Roly Keating, received death threats from protesters during the weekend after their addresses and telephone numbers were posted on the Christian Voice website.

The group was later instructed by lawyers to remove the details, but it is understood that several senior executives have been given protection as a result.

On Friday, Mr Green said: "The BBC have no respect for God, and they hold the views of ordinary people in contempt. We demand respect for the Christian Faith and we are not prepared to allow these attacks on the Christian Faith to go on any longer.

But Terry Sanderson, vice president of the National Secular Society called for action against "extremists".

He said: "It is time for the authorities to call a halt to these threats and menaces against innocent people and their property. Unless these extremists are stopped now, there is the distinct possibility that someone is going to get hurt.

He added: "The instant we permit extremists to dictate what can and cannot be shown on TV we will find freedom of expression severely compromised.

The show, broadcast between 10pm and midnight on Saturday, received 1.8 million viewers - 20 per cent higher than the average audience for this time slot.

The row comes only a few weeks after protestors by Sikh groups led to Birmingham theatres deciding to scrap plans to show a play which Sikh groups claimed was blasphemous.