FIGHTING AGAINST BLASPHEMY
The Government and Morals Committee of Presbytery have been engaged in on-going correspondence with government departments and other bodies on the moral issues of the day.
In November last year a play was staged as part of the Outburst Queer Arts festival in Belfast called, “The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven" The preview of the play on the Outburst festival website described how in the play there was a "revolutionary queer ritual in which bread is shared, wine is drunk and familiar stories are re-imagined by a transgender Jesus."
The Bible reveals the Lord Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s and the eternal Son of God. The title “Queen of Heaven” is only used in the Bible in the book of Jeremiah to describe a heathen goddess whom God condemned. Furthermore the Bible teaches that homosexuality and transgender is sin. The play was a blasphemy against the Saviour whom we love and serve.
The Government and Morals Committee contacted various government departments and bodies who were listed as having sponsored this play. Among those contacted were, the Arts Council, which distributes funds from the National Lottery, Belfast City Council, The Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, The Department of Social Development and the Public Health Agency.
It was pointed out to each that under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act public bodies have obligations relating to promoting good relations between people of different religious beliefs, ethnic origins, and political opinions. The Government and Morals Committee indicated that for the LGBT lobby to portray the Son of God, as something other than who He is does nothing to promote good relations. Rather it is our belief that it was their direct intention to make a mockery of Christ.
The Presbytery Committee received a number of replies, a couple of which denied that they had done anything that was contrary to section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act and urging that the Government and Morals Committee take the matter to the Equality Commission or the PSNI if they thought the law had been breached.
The reply that was most dismissive was that from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, which said that they supported the artist’s right to freedom of expression. The Arts Council stated that they took their obligations under section 75 very seriously but seemed to think that its only obligation under section 75 was “to promote equality of opportunity between persons of different religious beliefs.” However they look to have ignored the second section of the Act, which says, “a public authority shall in carrying out its functions relating to Northern Ireland have regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group.”
Belfast City Council appeared to want to distance themselves from the event and said that their contribution was part of an overall support given to the Community Festivals Fund and that they did not specifically support this event. They also pointed out that the Outburst Programme contains the statement “views expressed through Outburst events are not necessarily shared or endorsed by our funders, sponsors or partners.” The letter seemed to imply that the views of the play were not those of Belfast City Council.
The most satisfactory reply was from the Department of Social Development, which said that they had reviewed their procedures to ensure greater scrutiny of event programmes in the future.
It is hoped that our protest will result in greater scrutiny of events and that this kind of blasphemy will not be supported by public money in the future. We would ask you to pray for the Government and Morals Committee, which has the job of replying to government consultations on moral issues and of making our voice heard when issues like this arise.