Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Paris judge: nudity, sex positions in “blasphemous” ‘Golgota’ play OK for public

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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PARIS, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One day before the opening night of what has been called a “blasphemous” play, “Golgota Picnic”, a Paris judge has refused to sign an interim ruling prohibiting the opening of the show. Judge Magali Bouvier decided not to “destroy a work of art” which, she writes, will only be seen by a few hundred spectators at the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” on the Parisian Champs-Elysées, regardless of its offensive content and messages of hate against all Christians.

An emergency proceeding was introduced on these grounds a few weeks ago by the French and Christian rights defense group, AGRIF (Alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne). In French law, emergency proceedings are intended to put a stop to situations which “disrupt the public order”.

AGRIF’s counsel argued that the showing of “Golgota Picnic” would do that on several counts. The play’s Hispano-Argentian author, Rodrigo Garcia, expresses hatred towards Christ throughout the play, accusing centuries of Christian art of being directly responsible for sex abuse of minors by priests and religious, violence, and more generally all that is wrong with the world. Christ Himself is portrayed as a selfish, antisocial fraud and covered with verbal abuse calling him a “devil whore” or the “messiah of AIDS”.

The play visually attacks Christians’ central, treasured beliefs about all things related to the Crucifixion. Hundreds of bread burgers cover the scene in a parody of the Multiplication of the Loaves; the actors, five male, one female, repeatedly mock the Crucifixion while endlessly reciting rambling prose, then sing and dance the last words of Christ to strident guitar music.

The DVD of the play, produced by the Theatre’s counsel, has been found to contain more disturbing elements than press reports from Spain, where the play showed at the beginning of the year, had indicated. “Crucifixion” scenes were presented lascivious or grotesque, a “Pieta” scene showed an actress, completely nude, moving sensuously on a male actor’s lap and the “making” of the Shroud received similar sexual treatment.

Another scene showed three actors, two male and one female, scantily covered and soaked with blue and red paint to evoke classical paintings of Golgotha, entwining in sexual positions. After this they all undressed completely, facing the public or moving about the stage for at least five minutes.

This was not a problem, judge Bouvier ruled today, as the lighting was “dimmed” during the scene (in fact, during part of that scene the stage-lighting was a strong red, and normal the rest of the time). The AGRIF, one of whose objects is to combat pornography and to protect the dignity of women and children, argued that this scene, among several others, constitutes “sexual exhibition” which is prohibited by law, and should at the very least justify banning “Golgota Picnic” from being shown to minors under eighteen.

French law does not prohibit blasphemy, but it does affirm all believers’ right to freedom of religion and to the respect of their beliefs. AGRIF argued that “Golgota Picnic” violently disregards this right and adds incitement to hate against Christians by its repeated desecrations of Christian beliefs and its central figure Jesus Christ. Emphasizing that these actions are subject to prosecution under the law, the AGRIF asked that the most objectionable passages of the show be scrapped and that its name, which the group called an insult to believing Christians, be replaced by a less provocative title.

All the demands of the AGRIF were rejected by judge Magali Bouvier, who openly disregarded and misrepresented the unanimous and firm reactions of the French episcopate against “Golgota Picnic.”  Bouvier quoted admiring lines from the progressive Catholic newspaper La Croix to justify Rodrigo Garcia’s artistic portrayal of his “doubts and interrogations” about the God he feared as a young boy in Argentina.

The judge went on to assess the AGRIF for court costs of 3,500 euro (over 4,600 USD) legal expenses incurred by the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” for its defense.

Last week’s hearing took place in judges’ chambers at the top of the “Caesar Tower” in the Conciergerie facing the Seine in the heart of Paris. The tower is one of the main remnants of the medieval palace where French kings lived from the 11th-15th century, after which the buildings would serve as the Parliament of Paris, the prison where Marie-Antoinette was kept until her execution, and, now, as “Palace of Justice” sheltering all Parisian judiciary courts as well as the equivalent of the Highest Court of Appeal. Ironically, upon entering this chamber the first thing that visitors see is a life-size reproduction of the “Retable of the Parliament of Paris”, an impressive 15th-century rendering of the Crucifixion.

This week several events were set to mark the “premiere” of Golgota Picnic.

In an unprecedented move, the archbishop of Paris, cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has called “all those who are willing” to participate in a vigil in his cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris after the Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal referred to the play that “insults Christ on the Cross”, and called Catholics to participate in a “meditation of the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the Holy Crown of Thorns”. The relic is usually only shown to the faithful on Fridays in Lent and on First Fridays during the year.

Some have speculated that the special vigil purpose is to undermine or take attention away from the emphatic public protests against the play, which will be taking place from the 8th through the 17th December, each time “Golgota Picnic” will be shown in the Théâtre du Rond-Point. Several groups are calling on Parisians to participate in these peaceful, prayerful demonstrations as they already did in recent protests against “On the Concept of the Face of Christ”, another “blasphemous” play which some bishops excused on the grounds that they found it “thought-provoking”.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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