Friday, September 09, 2005

Alpha in cinemas

There’s been a lot of movie news on the GALHA Blog this week, and here’s more. The so-called ‘Alpha Course’ that fools introduction to Christianity 101, with a budget of zillions, which advertises on billboards, buses and tube stations has now gone a step further. Using “celebrity” endorsements, they’ll be advertising in cinemas, reports the BBC.

It’ll now be impossible to escape from their evangelising, even in that temple of escapism, the local multiplex.

Of course, the Alpha Course’s strident evangelical style is not without its detractors, even within the loonier extremes of the faith. For example, a website called Deception in the Church rages against the false doctrines in an article The Dangers Of The Alpha Course. Another Christian group asks The Alpha Course - Final Answer or Fatal Attraction?

Of course, it’s always entertaining to watch these groups squabble among themselves, but Alpha’s brand of urban, yuppie religion is also a serious threat to lesbian and gay people. It’s message is extremely homophobic.

GALHA member, John Rose, took an in-depth look of the Alpha Course in an essay ‘A critique of the Alpha course's attitude towards homosexuality’ published on our website.

In the paper, Rose notes:

The Alpha course takes a misinformed view of homosexuality. The argument is presented in a way that seems to distance itself from fundamentalism, yet it is no more or less than this. In his Alpha course sessions, Gumbel, spiritual leader of the Alpha course, compares homosexuality to paedophilia. In a much-referred-to newspaper article reporting on course meetings, an agnostic asked Gumbel what was so sinful about a homosexual friend who since he was a child had found himself attracted to other boys. Gumbel replies:

If a paedophile said, "Ever since I was a child I found myself attracted to children", we wouldn't say that was normal, would we? ... Now, I am not for a moment comparing homosexuals with paedophiles ...

However, he quite blatantly is; and furthermore it places the comparison into people's minds, with the pretence that it is a reasonable argument.

Another major newspaper article toexpose Alpha’s agenda appeared in The Times in February. Times correspondent Christine Odone noted in her article ‘Church war on gays’:

At the gathering of the primates of the Anglican Communion, all eyes are trained on the conservative African bishops. With a little help from their evangelical American brethren, their implacable opposition to gay priests has caused so much of the Church’s recent troubles. But the renewed impetus for a war on gays within the Church of England comes from a homegrown movement — Alpha. Here, at the very heart of the Mother Church, thrives an influential group that has made homophobia respectable.

Alpha is a “back to basics” course in Christianity. Its teachings about homosexuality are clear: gays are not only sinners, they are also sick. The Rev Nicky Gumbel, Alpha’s leading light, is on record calling for their healing, and for gays to lead a life of abstinence. Enrol in the Alpha course, and you will take part in fifteen sessions over ten weeks that drag you into a world full of no-nos: no sex before marriage, no feminism, no abortion and no gay sex.

Nicky Gumbel has also produced a booklet in which he pontificates on how sick and evil we gays are. Extracted from his book “Searching Issues”, the booklet is called “What is the Christian attitude to homosexuality?”.

The blurb for the book points towards familiar territory in the Christian ordinance survey of ecclesiastical bigotry:

“In this Booklet Nicky Gumbel looks at the complex questions of : Is homsexual practice an option for a Christian? Is AIDS the judgement of God on homosexual practice? Can sexual orientation be changed?”

Another BBC story really gets to the crux of the matter. They note in “Alpha 'feeds modern spiritual hunger'”:

Some say Alpha is more a rich social club than a Christian coming-together. Others are uncomfortable with what they call its prescriptive teaching and attitudes towards homosexuality and other faiths.

It appears that what Alpha really does is feed on the current post-modern ennui and angst and tries to exploit a generation of young people at their most vulnerable in order to fill, not the gap in these people’s lives, but the empty pews in their declining church.


At 1:01 PM, Blogger Andy said...

I went to the BBC story you cite. Apart from that smidgen of what seems to be criticism (just two short pars), the whole thing's just another plug for this evil nonsense. What's the B bloody B bloody C playing at (that's British bloody Broadcasting bloody Church, by the way)? Once, some time ago, I'd have expected a balanced article, but we just get grinning morons (and one who isn't grinning, but looks sad) telling us how they found their 'faith'. And what prompted the piece, if not as a gratuitous free ad? It's not an old article, which we saw a lot of when Alpha was in the news during its 10-week free advertisement on ITV (unless it's meant to be a background piece that's linked to by a story elsewhere on the site). I become less enamoured of the Beeb every day, the way it does religion.


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