Manchester passion play planned to charge public £750 to be pinned to cross like Jesus

An article from the Telegraph.

A controversial plan to charge people to be “crucified” in Manchester City Centre was cancelled by Church of England clergy after concerns that it was blasphemous.

Manchester’s Passion play, which tells the story of Christ’s crucifixion, was set to include a divisive new element which would involve members of the public being hoisted onto a cross in the city’s Cathedral Gardens in return for a £750 donation.

But the plan was cancelled after warnings from senior clergy that the idea was “highly distasteful” and raised health and safety concerns.

Rob Slater 59, who will be playing the part of Jesus in the Manchester Passion 2017
Rob Slater 59, who will be playing the part of Jesus in the Manchester Passion 2017CREDIT:  PHIL TAYLOR

The idea was scrapped after it came to the attention of the Reverend Canon Falak Sher, a canon at Manchester Cathedral.

Members said he sent a Whatsapp telling the committee “sorry, it’s been taken off”.

I think they  got carried away. It’s just enthusiasm – people are very excitedMr Millard

He said: “To put people in Jesus’s place on the cross and charge them £750 to do it is blasphemous.

“The event is to help the homeless, the poor, asylum seekers. It doesn’t look good to be charging people that amount of money to go onto the cross.”

Mr Sher also raised concerns that the event would offend important Church of England guests including the Bishop of Manchester.

The idea originally came from a “Facebook Memories” post which appeared in members’ feeds showing organiser Geoff Millard testing the crosses from the previous year’s Passion Play, which was held in Bolton.

Passion for Bolton 2016
Passion for Bolton 2016 CREDIT: PHIL TAYLOR ARPS

Fundraising volunteers had been looking for ideas to raise the £8,000 still needed for this year’s production and were adding incentives to the crowdfunding page.

“We had just been testing the crosses for weight,” said Mr Millard. “And this was picked up on, and the next day there was a post on the crowdfunding page offering ‘the full crucifixion experience’.”

Mr Millard did not realise that the post had been made until four days later, when it was taken down.

“I think they  got carried away. It’s just enthusiasm – people are very excited,” he said.

He said other proposed “rewards” had included sitting next to the Bishop to watch the play and a backstage experience – all of which have now been scrapped.

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