Around 50 evangelical Christian protesters gathered outside Theatre at The Mill on Thursday evening (January 30) to voice their objection to the staging of an irreverent play about the Bible.
Ministers and members of the Free Presbyterian Church held a banner saying ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked’ and sang hymns as the audience arrived for the second night of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s sell-out comedy, The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged).
The protesters held a short demonstration at the front gates of the council’s Mossley Mill complex before assembling at the door of the theatre shortly before the show was due to start.
None of the local DUP councillors who sparked a media storm by calling for the show to be axed were among the protesters.
The demonstration was led by Rev Brian McClung, Minister of Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church, who handed over a letter of protest to the theatre’s duty manager Brian McMahon, asking that it be passed on to the chief executive and councillors.
“We are here primarily to stand up for the honour of the Word of God. We believe in the Bible and we believe that it is the word of the living God,” he said.
“This play is mocking at sin, laughing at sin and turning sin into something that they can joke about.
“They (the RSC) have turned the Bible into a comedy - something to laugh at. The Bible says ‘Fools make a mock of sin’, and we are here tonight to show our opposition to that.”
RSC actor Gary Fannin, who watched on as the demonstrators gathered outside the venue, denied that the show makes a mockery of Christianity.
“It says on their banner that God is not mocked. And they’re right. God is not being mocked,” he said.
The council’s artistic board took the decision last week to cancel the play, claiming it had done so as a result of political pressure from the DUP.
It later reinstated the production and the two-night run quickly sold out.
Addressing the protesters on Thursday night, Rev McClung claimed that the board’s decision to axe the show had been “tactical” in order to “get around the council.”
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