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'Jerry' sparks debate over blasphemy law

Nov. 20, 2007 at 7:56 PM

LONDON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An airing of "Jerry Springer -- The Opera" on British television has sparked debate over whether blasphemy laws are antiquated and should be repealed.

Stephen Green, director of the conservative evangelical group Christian Voice, claims the musical violates the law of blasphemous libel for its "degrading" portrayal of Christ, The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.

Green filed papers in January to bring private prosecutions against the producer of the show, which was broadcast on the BBC in 2005.

Green's initial application was rejected by the city of Westminster magistrates' court. He is now taking his case to the High Court.

The human rights group Liberty has made a third-party submission to the High Court, arguing the offense should not be recognized in English law at all, since it violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

The last blasphemy prosecution took place 30 years ago, the organization pointed out.

Green said he was disappointed by Liberty's involvement in the case, "Getting rid of the blasphemy laws would be another nail in the coffin of the culture of respect in this country, a further coarsening of society," he said.

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