UK church to show Monty Python’s religious satire ‘Life of Brian’

A UK church plans to show the Monty Python film which was either banned or X-rated by 39 of Britain’s localities back in 1979. While back then it was considered “blasphemous” many in now seem to stand in favor of the “new age” move, RT’s Polly Boiko reports.

“I don’t think it’s anti-Christian at all... It does poke some fun at aspects of the church or ways in which the church can develop and, well, we laugh at it. Jesus talked about people swallow a camel and strain out on that which is really Python humor and I suspect it’s a bit along those lines, really,” 56-year-old Father Christopher Wilson of the All Saints' Parish Church told Boiko.

The idea came to Wilson when he decided to attract a new audience to his church, to help with donations for necessary building repair works, and decided to indulge a spot of counter-programing.

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The plot of the spoof film closely mirrors major events in the New Testament, including the Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion, but places a hapless protagonist Brian – who is mistakenly thought to be the messiah by the gullible masses – in place of Jesus.

By showcasing the movie the vicar hopes to break the myth of those people who view the church a “distant” place, he said.

“I think what we’re doing is breaking a taboo, breaking down a barrier…That’s a good thing really because a lot of people see the church as a bit distant and a bit stand-off-ish and even if they have spirituality within them they don’t always look to the church as being the place to express that and we need to grade that down…you know, we laugh at the same sort of things,” Wilson told Boiko.

“We would like to meet people in the town and we would like them to understand that the Parish church is there for them as well.”

The opinions of the church’s visitors somewhat echo that of Wilson. Many say that the comedy is in no way blasphemous and it is “not an issue” at all to show it in the church headquarters.

“I’m absolutely delighted that this is happening,” one visitor told RT.

“I’m not outraged but I’m surprised that this particular film is being shown in a church. At the time it was very controversial because it’s all about Christ and it’s very reverent but they don’t seem to mind…” said another.

“I don’t think it’s really is an issue today,” explained a third visitor. “They were just misunderstood at the time. I don’t think anyone is concerned about it now.”

The vicar also said that his decision to show the comedy did not cause much of an outrage.

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“I have had one letter of complaint, two emails of complaint and somebody has put a comment on Facebook. I’ve also had overwhelming support from all sorts of people. So for the vast majority of people it is not an issue at all,” Wilson said.

But not everyone is going along with the maverick Church of England vicar. An activist in front of the church told RT’s Polly Boiko that he came there to convince people that the “might either stop going in or think of what they are doing and think of it as mockery.”

“I know they need a lot of money for the church,” he said, criticizing the vicar’s choice. “But I think if you really know God and your worship God, and should fill your church by preaching the true gospel.”

“Why on earth would a church be an appropriate venue to show an essentially anti-Christian film that is offensive to the Christian faith? I support freedom of speech and people's rights to view certain films, but why not screen it in a cinema?” John Ascott from Leamington Spa told the Telegraph. “There must be better ways to encourage people to attend church than to show a film which is, in essence, making fun of the entire Christian faith and story of Jesus.”

The screening, which is penciled in for next month, will happen alongside a concert in which an organist will play Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Vicar in a Tutu by The Smiths, and Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, together other songs that have attracted censure from the church.
There will also be an impromptu bar serving alcohol.

The worldwide controversy unleashed by life of Brian 37 years ago, would easily put recent brouhaha over Innocence of Muslims in the shade, and sparked public discussion comparable to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons.

Despite being virtually banned by dozens of UK authorities, it was a huge hit in the country. Public showings were also forbidden in Norway and Ireland, as well as dozens of more conservative countries.