London High Court Rules Jerry Springer Is Not Blasphemous

News   London High Court Rules Jerry Springer Is Not Blasphemous
A Christian evangelical group has failed in an attempt to brand the controversial musical Jerry Springer – the Opera as legally blasphemous.

In a High Court ruling, two judges refused the group Christian Voice permission to prosecute theatre producer Jonathan Thoday and Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC who aired the musical in 2005.

Christian Voice, one of the Christian pressure groups who attempted to prevent the U.K. touring version of the show, had described the musical as "offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief."

In the ruling judges Lord Justice Hughes and Mr. Justice Collins said, "As a whole [Jerry Springer – the Opera] was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred."

The show, with music by Richard Thomas who wrote the book and lyrics with Stewart Lee, was born during a workshop at Battersea Art Centre, expanded for the Edinburgh Fringe and finally taken on by the National Theatre before winning the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

A concert version of the musical starring Harvey Keitel in the title role is planned for Carnegie Hall on Jan. 29 and 30, 2008. Christian Voice had asked the High Court in London to overturn a decision by a lower court, which refused to issue summonses against Mr Thompson. The judges in the High Court said that the earlier decision was correct to conclude that no jury could convict Mr. Thompson on the evidence provided. The High Court judges have refused Christian Voice permission to appeal and have left it to the law lords in the House of Lords, the highest court in the land, to decide if they will hear the case.

The BBC said it was "pleased" with the ruling.

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