Do Not Silence Father Chris Bedding
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Father Chris Bedding is a priest, an activist, and a comedian. In all three of these roles, he is a positive social influence. His parish has blossomed into a supportive, living community, and his work for the rights of refugees and LGTBQI people is as commendable as it is tireless.
He has, however, currently been removed from his parish due to a single complaint about his social media usage, and the perceived content of his onstage performances. He has been denied the right of reply, and treated poorly.
It is a shabby state of affairs that this excellent priest is being censored for creating innovative art.
It is also a shameful waste of the limited time and resources available to a Church department principally set up to assist survivors of sexual abuse.
As a comedian, Father Chris is funny, perceptive, creative, thoughtful – and through Pirate Church, a great provider of insight into the Christian faith, as well as the amusing day-to-day minutiae of parish life.
Pirate Church has taken elements of the Anglican Church to audiences that would never have encountered its theology or practice, and made both accessible and interesting. It is more amusing than The Pearly Gates comic strip that used to run in the Anglican Messenger; more insightful than The Vicar of Dibley and unlike Rowan Atkinson’s procession of incompetent clergymen, Father Chris’s performances are not rooted in the stumbling, bumbling “good evening, Vicar” of English farce.
Father Chris is a man whose onstage work reflects the living, breathing modern Church. It is unique, and is arguably the best contemporary representation of modern Christianity to be seen on any stage. (Jesus Christ Superstar, is, after all, looking a little creaky.)
As members of the Arts community, and people of diverse faith, sexuality and gender, we are honoured to have him as a peer.
We maintain that Father Chris has been removed from his parish as part of a secretive, misguided and cruel process, and we petition the Administrator and the Diocesan Council to reinstate him immediately.
Art is subjective, but to see such a vital community voice struck down over an interpretation of art is sickening.
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