When Christians are the Religious Minority »« Reactions to the ‘Debate’

Another Blasphemy Problem in Russia

In the wake of the sentencing of punk band Pussy Riot, and the consideration of a harsh new law that criminalizes offending the delicate sensibilities of religious believers, a Russian city has ordered a theater to stop selling tickets to a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar because of complaints from Christians.

Rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has been pulled before a performance in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don following complaints from Orthodox Christians. The believers claim the production is in breach of a controversial new religious offense law.

A group of eighteen private citizens sent a letter to the administration of the large city in the south of the country ahead of a touring performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which premiered 42 years ago.

“In our view the image of Christ presented in the opera is incorrect. If they want to stage a play about the life of the Savior, they should first clear it with the local church authority,” one of the offended believers told Life News.

“Now that there is a law for these offenses, we have decided to appeal to the state for help.”

Or they could try, you know, not going to the goddamn musical.

Comments

  1. davidhart says

    Is this going to be one of those ‘the mere accusation is sufficient proof of guilt’ type laws, or are they actually planning on instituting some sort of body to screen complaints to see whether an allegation of blasphemy is true before blocking a performance?

    Also, I rather like the riposte from a spokesperson for the local church: “I’d like to note this is the opinion of some citizens, and not actually the official stance of the Church [...] Maybe they should have got a blessing from their priest before firing off a complaint.”

  2. says

    “Or they could try, you know, not going to the goddamn musical.”

    But they will know that it is in town. They will know that someone, somewhere, does not find the production objectionable. They will know that people in their own district is not a narrow-minded fanatic. They will know that some people are not obedient little sheeple.

    And that knowledge will gnaw on them. It will wound their soul. The wound will fester, spreading poisonous doubt into their very soul. And for those doubts, their eternally loving Father will condemn them to eternal torment and pain.

    Therefore, the musical must be suppressed, at any cost. QED.

  3. iknklast says

    Here is the thing that stuck out for me:

    “Now that there is a law for these offenses, we have decided to appeal to the state for help”

    If your religion needs state help, it’s got problems. It’s not viable if you can’t keep people on board without the state. When you appeal for state help, you end up with Crusades, Inquisitions, Witch Hunts, and whatever else.

    Blasphemy is a victimless “crime”, and has no relevance outside the church. Any government who begins to deal in blasphemy laws will find themselves spending more time policing people’s private thoughts than dealing with serious issues. And what happens when you get competing definitions of blasphemy? To liberal Christians, what conservative Christians say is blasphemy. To conservative Christians, vice versa.

    And I’ve found you can’t even stick to safe topics, like the weather. I believe the weather is caused by a complex interaction between solar energy and the atmosphere. I have evidence to back me up. But many of my students believe the weather is created by God (they learn the atmosphere stuff to pass the test, but that’s as far as they’ll go). So, am I guilty of blasphemy? OK, don’t talk about the weather.

    People’s health? What if I’m talking to a Seventh Day Adventist? a Scientologist? Oops.

    Blasphemy is not something the state should get involved in, unless they’re prepared to define it, which means supporting one religion over all others. That’s always turned out badly in the past.

  4. =8)-DX says

    To me the crucial part is “they should first clear it with the local church authority”. Irony circle here anyone? (Protests over Church and government collaboration lead to improsonment of protesters and new law mandating government collaboration with the Church).

    It’s like they were telling Pussy Riot: yes, you were spot-on with what you’re protesting against, but you’re not legally allowed to say it, although we ARE legally allowed to do it.

  5. matty1 says

    To liberal Christians, what conservative Christians say is blasphemy. To conservative Christians, vice versa.

    In fairness liberal Christians tend not to go in for accusations of blasphemy that much, except maybe as a rhetorical flourish in arguing with conservatives. Ask them about ‘respect’ for religions though and they seem to get a lot less free speech friendly.

  6. Michael Heath says

    To liberal Christians, what conservative Christians say is blasphemy. To conservative Christians, vice versa.

    I don’t recall encountering the former, nor do I recall any movements by liberals to promote laws which criminalizes conservative Christian rhetoric, nor have I encountered any polling data liberal Christians take this position (legal or otherwise). So I’m skeptical this is true.

  7. Uncle Glenny says

    And I’ve found you can’t even stick to safe topics, like the weather….

    OT, but as the resistance to anthropogenic climate change cranked up, I could;t even talk about that with my (now deceased) father, as he had become a dittohead on a hair trigger, and this was only two degrees of separation from the socialist in the whitehouse trying to ruin the country. What few other things we could talk about were one degree of separation. (In the 90s all I’d have to do to make him hyperventilate was say “Bill Clinton.”)

  8. greg1466 says

    I’d like to file a complaint that all of the churches should stop holding services because in my view the image of Christ presented is incorrect. …funny how these people never consider the implications of actually enforcing these laws against everyone and not just the people they don’t like.

  9. martinc says

    “In our view the image of Christ presented in the opera is incorrect.”

    Presumably they’re complaining that the role is not being played by someone Jewish.

  10. busterggi says

    So reassuring when believers of all kinds tell me they don’t want a theocracy, only the other bad religions do.

  11. John Hinkle says

    If someone criticizes your religion in a forest, and there’s no one around to hear it, was anyone offended?

  12. vmanis1 says

    Herod (to Jesus): `Prove to me that you’re no fool/Walk across my swimming pool’

    Long live Tim Rice!

  13. says

    Dammitall, now I’m going to have the various songs from that movie stuck in my head for days. 42 years now and they’re still guaranteed to stick around for days if they get a toehold.

    I only want to say
    If there is a way
    Take this song away from me
    For I don’t want
    To hear its rhythms
    Feel them burn me
    I have changed
    I’m not a Christian
    Any longer
    Then I was enthralled
    Now I’m just appalled
    Listen, surely I’ve exceeded
    The memory statue
    Of limitations
    Feel like dying
    Could you ask as much
    From any Weber fan?

  14. ArtK says

    @barefootbree

    Thanks for the laugh. Having played and sung in Superstar several times over the (many) years, that stuff gets stuck in my head, too.

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