Church Easter Play Poster Banned from Library
|TOP|Iranian members of the Methodist Church have been forbidden from advertising its Easter passion play through posters in a public library, to avoid offending other religious groups.
Although the Christian group from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, has previously performed the play twice in its home town, the local authority has told them that advertising it would violate a long-standing policy which does not allow religious groups to put posters up in its libraries and museums.
English-born Elizabeth Collins, 44, a Bible teacher with the group, said: "This is supposed to be a Christian country, we can't believe it.
"We go to other countries to promote democracy and free-thinking yet on our own doorstep we cannot even put up a poster about our Easter passion play.
"This is ludicrous and so petty. We have already taken religion out of our schools and now it is being taken out of public places as well."
|AD|Miss Collins, who was formerly married to an Iranian and is planning to train to be a Methodist minister, said: "Rotherham council gave us permission to perform the play, but we're effectively not being allowed to publicise it.
"One of our members wanted to put up a poster about the play in the library but officials kept it for a few days then came back and said it could not be displayed because it might cause offence to other people.
"We can only imagine they mean other religions. The poster just has a cross on it with the date, time and place of the performance and says Iranian Christian Drama. What offence can that cause to anyone?"
The group will put on the open-air show in nearby Rotherham at lunchtime tomorrow and had hoped to advertise the event in the main library, for people to see the poster alongside other educational and theatrical notices on display and attract an audience.
Miss Collins added: "I was more than a little bit angry when I heard of the ban. I am dismayed to see the state of this nation.
"What has it come to when you cannot display a Christian poster for fear of upsetting somebody else in a Christian country?
"If I had gone to Iran with a poster under my arm and tried to place it in a library there I would probably have come out without a head on my shoulders."
Rotherham metropolitan borough council explained that its ban applied to all of the religious, political and commercial groups in the district.
A spokesman said: "We have had a policy in place for more than 20 years that religious
groups are not allowed to display posters in our museums and libraries.
"It is nothing against the particular church or group. It is just a blanket ban. It is not the poster or the event which is causing us concern.
"We don't want to promote one religious group above another."