Manchester pulls £750 public crucifixion offer

Pay-to-be-slayed plan pulled over blasphemy, health & safety worries

Life of Brian

Senior clergy in Manchester, England, have cited health and safety and blasphemy concerns after nixing a plan to fill a funding gap for the city’s Easter Passion play by offering members of the public the chance to be crucified.

Organisers of the annual Manchester Passion were apparently looking for innovative ways to cover the cost of the event, and hit on the idea of “The Crucifixion Experience” which they offered via Crowdfunder. For a donation of £750, supporters could secure the right to be hoisted onto a cross at the climax of the public reenactment of Jesus’ execution.

However, killjoy senior clerics have clamped down on the groundbreaking idea, with Reverend Canon Falak Sher telling the organisers - apparently via Whatsapp - that “To put people in Jesus’ place on the cross and charge them £750 to do it is blasphemous.

"The event is to help the homeless, the poor, asylum seekers,” he continued, according to the Manchester Evening News. “It doesn't look good to be charging people that amount of money to go onto the cross.”

[It’s not entirely clear whether the idea would have been OK if the price tag was small enough to allow the poor and homeless to put themselves forward for crucifixion too.]

Either way health and safety concerns were also raised, inevitable really given the fact that a true Crucifixion Experience would have also required liberal use of hammers, nails, unfinished wood, thorns, and spears, as well as scourging, slapping, multiple insults and the severing of at least one ear.

The fundraiser who apparently put forward the plan, Alex Stewart-Clark, told the Manchester Evening News that concerns about health and safety were unfounded, as in the Passion’s 50-year history, no one had ever fallen off the cross.

“Most important is the question over it being sacrilegious. That’s a grey line. Sometimes crazy ideas work, sometimes they don’t. You can be prudish or you can embrace it. The clergy didn’t like it.”

While the offer of a personal crucifixion is off the menu, the organisers are still offering other ways to take part, including the chance to be a disciple, a member of the Palace Guard, a Roman soldier or a member of the baying crowd.

All the above offer “A chance to wear biblical clothes and have an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.”

Alternatively, if you want to take part in the Anglican liturgy from the comfort of your home, The Telegraph reports that the parish Church of St Augustine of Canterbury in Swindon has launched a dedicated phone number to which parishioners - and people beyond - can text their prayerful intentions.

This approach, while less intense, is presumably theologically sound and has the added benefit of requiring no public humiliation. ®

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