Notre Dame de Rouen. The façade of the Gothic Church in France. Photographer: Hippo1947. Licence: SHUTTERSTOCK.

23 Jan 2014

Blasphemous Film At Wells Cathedral. Saturday, 25 January 2014. Act Now To Stop This Outrage.

This appeal has been received from CHRISTIAN CONCERN

Christian Concern

Further Action: Opportunity under Canon Law to challenge Wells Cathedral showing blasphemous film

Thank you to those who have expressed their dismay at the decision by the Dean of Wells Cathedral to permit the screening of the Martin Scorsese film, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, this coming Saturday.

If you are an Anglican member of the diocese of Bath and Wells please consider challenging the decision by pointing out that Canon Law prohibits the House of God being used to show profane material.

If, however, you are a concerned Christian outside the Anglican church, please also make your views known.

The Cathedral plans to show the film on Saturday (7.30pm, 25 January) as part of the Bath Film Festival, so action is required quickly.

Please contact the Bishop’s office, the Chancellor of the Diocese and Lambeth Palace (see contact details below) to say that the decision to show the film is challengeable under Canon Law and quote the following articles of the law:

Canon F15 (Of Churches not to be profaned)
1.    The churchwardens and their assistants shall not suffer the church or chapel to be profaned by any meeting therein for temporal objects inconsistent with the sanctity of the place...

Canon F 16 (Of plays, concerts, and exhibitions of films and pictures in churches)
1.    When any church or chapel is to be used for a play, concert, or exhibition of films or pictures, the minister shall take care that the words, music and pictures are such as befit the House of God, are consonant with sound doctrine, and make for the edifying of the people.

In addition you can also indicate to the Bishop’s Office that a complaint may be made against the Dean of Wells Cathedral, the Very Revd John Clarke, under the Clergy Discipline Measure, for "conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders" because of actions permitting profane material such as this film to be shown.

Contact details:
  • The Bishop's Office:  Please note that although the See is vacant at present the diocesan website suggests making contact by either: writing to the Bishops' Office, The Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset BA5 2PD, phoning 01749 672341 or emailing the Bishop of Taunton:
  • The Chancellor of the Diocese: The Worshipful Timothy Briden at
  • Lambeth Palace: Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs at

A number of supporters have contacted us to say the response from the Cathedral to their complaints about the film, has been wholly unsatisfactory. Read the statement from the Dean’s office here:

“The Dean of Wells thanks you for your message of concern. Please find below a statement from the Cathedral.

The cathedral considers bookings from a range of organisations for the use of its space and late last year the Chapter agreed to let the Bath Film Festival use the cathedral to screen the ‘Last Temptation of Christ’ on Saturday 25th January 2014.  The screening is being arranged as a companion event to the Bath Film Festival’s recent showing of the silent film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC in another of the West Country’s most magnificent places of worship: Bath Abbey.

The film is an adaptation of the novel by the well-known Cretan author Nikos Kazantzakis. In the past the film has caused some controversy. However, it raised important theological questions about the nature of temptation and vocation, and in particular the temptations that Jesus faced.   The climax of the film is the realisation by Jesus that the desire to escape the cross and have a 'normal' married life is a temptation from Satan.

Much has changed in public perceptions of faith over the last 25 years. In this more sceptical age the church should not hide from controversy and part of the task of the cathedral is to promote an intelligent faith that is capable of attracting men and women to follow in the way of Jesus in the twenty first century.

With this in mind we are organising a discussion before the screening which will look at the theology behind the book and film and which will also consider what is not said by the film. On the evening, in my welcome and introduction, I will also suggest that the film offers, inevitably, a partial view of who Jesus was. It is not designed to be a biography. My hope therefore is that an audience who do not normally think about Jesus will spend time thinking about his significance for us today.

Equally, on the day after the screening I will be giving a talk on ‘Jesus’ as part of a series in the cathedral called ‘What can we believe today?’. This will provide another chance to invite people to deepen their questioning about faith, both for those who wish to think about faith and theology afresh, and for those who are in the process of exploring their approach to God. This particular session will run in the Education Room of Wells Cathedral on Sunday 26th January from 4.30pm.”

From: Mandy Staple - Secretary to the Dean & Chapter”

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