A satirical play premiering Sunday, August 5, at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival is taking aim at the Christian religious right, using comedy to show how Christian fundamentalists are the real extremist threat, compared to radicals from other religions particularly Islam.
"I find the Christian right groups that are enormously powerful in our own culture a larger numerical threat than extreme Islam," Australian playwright Van Badham told The Independent newspaper in an interview.
"They are somehow removed from public criticism, and that is one of the reasons we did the show."
The satirical play, Cash in Christ, features fundraising evangelical preacher Fanny Comfort and her husband Bob singing songs such as "Christian Rock (Is Cool)" with lines about "guitars exploding like a bomb".
The plot is ridiculing the Christian religious right's televangelist business and is based on the real story of prominent US evangelist Oral Roberts, who told audience that unless he raised $8 million by a given date, God would kill him.
The viewers duly donated $9.1 million to Roberts.
The 50-minute play comprises sermons from Christian literature, television programs and church services.
It took Badham months to write this play, conducting extensive research in the US, Australia and Britain.
She attended services at London Evangelical churches and used the Internet as a basic research tool.
Evangelical Christians, the fastest-growing faith-based group in the US, have had a growing impact on America's political landscape, in part because adherents believe conservative Christian values should have a place in politics — and they support politicians who agree with them.
White evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate and a large part of the Republican Party's base.
The Australian playwright took swipe at US President George W. Bush.
"Bush is from the religious right and he has the bomb; that terrifies me far more than the potential of other extremists to get their hands on nuclear weapons," Badham maintained.
She is frightened by Bush's religion-colored belligerence.
"What I find frightening about the war in Iraq is that Bush and the people around him speak about it as if it's the crusades again."
Bush upset many Muslims after the 9/11 attacks by referring to his so-called war on terror as a "crusade," a term which for many Muslims connotes a Christian battle against Islam.
He has recently said that Washington was at war with "Islamic fascists," drawing immediate rebuke from his Muslim citizens.
Bush's religion-toned speeches have drawn scathing criticism from mainstream politicians and political notables.
Former president and Nobel Prize winner Jimmy Carter accused Bush of eliminating the line between church and state.
Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright had blasted Bush for invoking religion into his foreign policies.
Analysts agree that Bush won his second term in office by playing the card of religion and terror scars.
Badham said the overall impression she got when she mixed with religious-right Christians is intolerance.
"The propaganda is intense. We have been going to these mega churches to be told: 'Christianity is not a religion. It is the work of God to rescue all of humanity.' So everybody else can basically get stuffed," she recalled.
"In the religious right it is the self-appointed moral majority that sets its own rules, and anybody opposing them is labeled unpatriotic and shouted down," noted Badham.
Critics contend that the religious right wants to impose an intolerant theocracy in the United States.
Late influential evangelical leader Jerry Falwell rallied three months before his death in May American voters to elect a new religious, rightist Republican to replace President Bush in the 2008 presidential polls.
The play has the largest satirical content since the Edinburgh festival, the world's largest arts gathering, kicked off in 1940s, according to critics.
The controversy accompanying the play is not unprecedented.
It stirred up in the past an hornet's nest that it had to be passed by three lawyers before it could be performed at a festival in Australia.
Last Mod: 06 Ağustos 2007, 10:28