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Feb 24 2005
Militant Christians Block Donation to Cancer Charity

Militant Christians block donation to cancer charity

Colin Blackstock

Thursday February 24, 2005

The Guardian

A militant Christian group behind an email campaign which bombarded the BBC with 50,000 complaints over the screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera has pressured a cancer charity into refusing money raised from a gala performance of the musical.

Christian Voice told the Scottish charity Maggie's Centres that accepting the money would alienate potential donors, and that if it accepted the cash the group would picket its premises.

The musical's producers had offered the charity 10 a ticket, and performers had agreed to give up their wages for a gala night to raise funds.

But Maggie's Centres said in a statement that it had decided to decline the money after Christian Voice told it the gift would "upset Christians all over the world". "To risk causing offence to anyone seemed unnecessary," it said.

The charity provides support for cancer patients, their families and carers across the country.

The national director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that the charity had "made a rare decision in Britain today to honour the Christian faith.

"We explained that they were in grave risk of alienating Christian donors ... and cancer patients by accepting money that had been raised from a performance of filth and blasphemy," he said. "Christian givers are known as among the most generous. For this charity to have taken the money they would have lost an enormous amount of good will and would alienate Christian givers, Christian staff, and a whole load of cancer patients who draw a great deal of comfort from their Christian faith."

But David Soul, who plays Jerry Springer in the musical, criticised the group for its "strong arm, mob-type tactics".

Describing the performance as "just an act of good will", the former Starsky and Hutch star said: "I don't think cancer is a Christian problem. Cancer is a problem that pervades and is alive and not so well in people across the board."

Christian Voice is thought to have been the driving force behind the campaign to bombard the BBC with complaints when it screened Jerry Springer - The Opera last month.

It put contact details of the BBC2 controller, Roly Keating, and the director of television, Jana Bennett, on its website, but removed them after the executives received threats.

The group has also said that it will do its best to picket the musical when it tours regional theatres after its run at the Cambridge Theatre in London finished last week.

Mr Green said in today's Times: "The producers think there will be a UK tour, but we will see how it pans out ... we will be picketing theatres."

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