Let's Ban Dido, `Changing Rooms' and Titchmarsh ; Sikhs Should Join with Other Religious Groups and Try to Get Truly Offensive Culture Banned

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You would think the people who should be most offended by this Sikh play that depicts sexual abuse inside a place of worship would be the Catholics. They must be thinking: "What a cheek - they've nicked that idea from our religion". That's probably why the play doesn't include paedophilia - then the Vatican would be able to sue for copyright.

Another surprise involves some of those who have condemned the Sikh protesters. For example, a Daily Telegraph editorial says they represent a "lethal new intolerance" that "threatens our way of life." Yet it only takes one councillor to send out Christmas cards saying "Happy winter greetings," and that lot are screaming about the insult to baby Jesus. So you can imagine how tolerant they'd be if the Christmas Day episode of The Vicar of Dibley ended in a display of sexual abuse in Westminster Cathedral involving the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ghost of Thora Hird.

Even some of the less hypocritical articles have exaggerated the scale of the issue, claiming "a threat to turn back the ideals of the enlightenment" etc. It's unlikely that in a few years we'll be executing anyone who insists the planets don't travel in perfect circles, with some of us lamenting: "This all started when they cancelled that play in Birmingham."

Nonetheless, one tragedy of the current furore is that the origins of the Sikh religion appear naturally tolerant and rational. It began with Guru Nanak, who apparently opposed the rituals of Hinduism, supported the rights of women and believed all religions were equal in the eyes of God. But then Nanak went for a bath in the river, disappeared underwater for three days and came back full of visions of God. If you were a critic reviewing religions, you might write: "This faith started full of promise, but then they had to go and spoil it. Maybe it was pressure from the producers for crowd- pleasing special effects, but once the tired old `miracle' formula was introduced it was hard to take the plot seriously."

Why didn't anyone start a rational religion, whose prophet is a 13th- century trader who wanders into the desert, then returns to tell his people: "I have been contemplating the nature of the universe. And I tell you what - I'm buggered if I know how it started." Then they all decide that instead of building a temple, they'll spend their evenings inventing the fridge freezer.

And it could be tempting for non-religious people to arrange a huge protest outside any place of worship. It would start with a press statement saying: "The story being read in this performance refers to those who don't worship (fill in name of relevant deity) as lacking in morality, possessed by demons, liable to be struck down by disease, thunderbolts or leeches, and destined to spend eternity in unimaginable spiritual misery and physical agony. …