Thursday, April 16, 2015

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Easter Fighting For Life: Christianity Needs To Act

In his weekly newspaper slot John Coulter writes about the problems Easter throws up for the Christian churches. Dr John Coulter is a radical right wing unionist writer and an evangelical Christian. He is a former columnist with The Blanket and now pens a column for the Irish Daily Star.



Christian Churches need to shout louder about the Biblical meaning of Easter otherwise this week's commemorations will be nothing more than a republican coat-trailing exercise or another secular holiday.

Today and tomorrow – as well as the 99th anniversary of the Easter Rising – also marks the official start of the loyalist marching season with flashpoints such as Ardoyne Shops and Drumcree unresolved.

Easter, like Christmas, is in danger of losing its true Christian message and will become nothing more than a glorified May Bank Holiday.

The Christian Churches have a moral duty to protect the significance of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The bitter reality is that the Christian faith in Ireland is under siege. The Churches can begin the fight back this week with every place of worship on this island hosting a screening of a film which shows the Crucifixion.

Regretfully, there are thousands of Irish people across the Emerald Isle for whom the words 'Jesus Christ' are mere curses, and the Biblical Third Commandment about not taking the Lord's Name in vain is a joke.

Easter, like Lent, is becoming a totally commercialised event and there is the real danger the true meaning of Christ on the Cross could be lost amid the Easter eggs, Easter sales and holidays.

My appeal to the Christian Churches across Ireland this Easter is simple – get your flocks to watch a true Biblical film about Jesus this Easter!

As the members of the Protestant Loyal Orders don their sashes today to kick off a new season, they need to remember their initiation vows.

As republicans march to recall those patriots who fell in Dublin during the bloody Rising fiasco, they need to ask themselves – what did they really die for?

But perhaps the Churches need to get their oar in first this Easter Monday and remind both sides what Christ died for.

Top of my flick list for Christian clerics to push is Mel Gibson's 2004 outstanding tale of the crucifixion, The Passion of the Christ.

It is a no-punches-pulled depiction of the torture and execution of Jesus. It is such an absorbing film, I watched it three times before writing my review.

I loved that film, but I recall one cleric handing me a document detailing more than 50 reasons why he opposed the movie – even though he hadn't seen it!

But if the Christian Churches want controversy, then director Martin Scorsese's highly contentious movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, is perfect.

However, you could always stick with the old faithful, the 1959 Ben Hur starring Hollywood legend Charlton Heston.

It may not have the same blood and guts as Gibson's Passion, but it still gets across the true meaning of the Cross.

This specific time of the Easter celebrations also mark how Christ rose from the dead to save the world.

Easter should, therefore, be a joyous time for the Christian community, so dare I mention the Monty Python version of the crucifixion in the 1979 comedy, The Life of Brian.

The hit single, Always Look On The Bright Side of Life, remains one of the most popular renderings of the Christian faith, but many conservatives and fundamentalists dismiss both film and song as total blasphemy!

Before republicans and loyalists unleash another summer of sectarian tension on us, please do one thing – watch one of these crucifixion films and ask yourselves – what would Jesus do? I live in hope.

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