For a mere £750.00, Christian masochists could have bought themselves a place on a cross to enjoy ‘the full crucifixion experience‘ offered by the organisers of the Manchester Passion play, due to take place on Friday.
But, thanks to Church of England killjoys, who thought the idea was both unsafe and “blasphemous”, those relishing the idea of being tied – not nailed – to a cross have been deprived of the opportunity to hang about in public in their Andrew Christians.
“The full crucifixion experience”, posted on the Manchester Passion 2017 Crowdfunder site, was removed after members of the play’s organising committee, which includes C of E clergy, decided the offer was both daft and dangerous.
Reverend Falak Sher, a canon at Manchester Cathedral and chairman of the organising committee, said he vetoed the idea when it came to light.
When I saw it I did not like it, I thought it was disgraceful. The whole message of the cross is hope and love. When I saw this I was not very happy and asked the committee to take this one down.
We didn’t like promoting the event in this way for £750. I thought it was not a very positive message when dealing with a message of love and hope.
Alexander Stewart-Clark, a volunteer who serves as a managing trustee of the Passion Trust, which helps groups organise passion plays, said he took full responsibility for what he described as an insensitive idea.
Stewart-Clark, who runs a business importing timber, said that the event had grown since it was first conceived to include a cast of 120, and 80 stewards.
The whole thing just got bigger and bigger and, of course, with that comes the infrastructure cost.
Instead of being a £20,000 play it became a £55,000 play and the burden on raising money then falls on us. We were trying to think up some ideas, just bouncing around what would be good, and someone came up with the idea of letting people be crucified for £750.
You have clergy wanting to play it safe and businessmen like me trying to raise the funding. There was a difference of opinion and what was a small disagreement has got out of all proportion.
Stewart-Clark said that his timber is used to make the mock crucifixes, which have a pedestal for people to stand on and pieces of rope on either side of the cross bar to hold on to. He said that he had never known anyone to fall off such a cross.
Had the plan gone ahead the mock crucifixions would have taken place on Friday, while the stage for the performance was being built.
If people had wanted to do it they would have been hoisted up there for a couple of minutes. It was just a sort of gimmick, but it was tasteless.
If you are put up on a cross it is not to take the place of Jesus or God. It is to empathise with him because it’s not very comfortable and it’s a public disgrace. A crucifixion is a humiliating public execution.
The committee has so far raised about £45,000 to stage the play and is aiming to raise another £5,000. Stewart-Clark said there were plenty of other bad fundraising ideas that were scrapped, including charging people a fee to sit next to the bishop to watch the play.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn