Back in the day, Monty Pythons' Life of Brian caused a near riot at the church I attended. Members demonstrated outside of local theaters. Bible studies and youth group meetings were dedicated developing protest material, writing letters, and planning acts of civil disobedience. By day, I worked to stop the film, by night I watched the film at a local drive-in.
Pastor Ken told us anyone who watched the movie was sinning against God and would go straight to hell. I was already well into developing serious doubts about my faith by the time the movie was released, so the threat of eternal damnation did not scare me. Plus, I was a skeptic even as a kid, I needed to see it for myself. The movie turned out to be one of the funniest films ever produced. The controversy faded quickly, at one point even prompting embarrassed chuckles from people who were gung ho for burning down theaters a few months before.
I was surprised to see Life of Brian in the press again. It seems a UK Church is set to screening it for it's members.
Some condemned the 1979 film as blasphemous, because of its story of a Jewish man who is worshipped as the Messiah and then crucified.
Now the Anglican St Thomas the Martyr church in Newcastle is due to screen the film on Friday as part of a project with the independent Tyneside Cinema.
The Reverend Jonathan Adams said he had the backing of his congregation.
Why would a church want to watch Life of Brian? Why would they subject themselves to such blasphemy again? ...Because it's funny!
Rev Adams said: "Jesus of Nazareth is not some sort of hot house plant that we need to protect from criticism and scrutiny.
"Actually I don't think the film does that. But it does poke fun at some of the stupidity and hypocrisies of people who profess religious faith.
Take that Pastor Ken!