Pastor not offended by 'Jesus scarecrow' in his town
Says the town is not divided despite mixed international response.
Godmanchester Baptist Church senior pastor John Smith said that his town is not divided over the controversial 'Jesus scarecrow,' and he doesn't find the figure offensive.
Pastor Smith reported that what has sparked an international response has not been divisive to the small town in Cambridgeshire, England.
"It's making people think but isn't dividing them," he told BBC News. "You know, our world may be broken in many ways, but Godmanchester isn't going to be broken by a scarecrow."
He also defended the woman who made the scarecrow, Radka Shaw, for her choice of muse.
"One person chose [the fictional character] Sweeney Todd, and he's a murderer. Radka chose one of the good guys."
Godmanchester has an annual Scarecrow Festival in which town members create the homemade mannequins for public display. This year's theme was "musicals," and Shaw and her children chose "Jesus Christ Superstar" as their inspiration.
After an international outcry over the depiction of a crucified Christ tied to a lamppost, Shaw issued a statement stating that she is a Christian, and meant no offense.
"I made the scarecrow with the intention of joining in with the community spirit," she wrote. "There was never any intention to upset or offend anyone. I am still at a loss to understand all the commotion and discussion about it."
The scarecrow was moved to a fence near Shaw's home last week. A cross and crown of thorns were also removed from the display.
Pastor Smith said he understands why there was such an emotional reaction.
"The Crucifixion is a very graphic and challenging image," he said. "It's fair to say we were surprised and shocked, but not in a bad way. It was an unexpected thing to see."
Still, Smith said he rather likes the scarecrow.
"I think this scarecrow is a very clever idea and it's certainly challenging us all to think," he offered. "In fact, I think it's one of the classier and more sophisticated ones in town."