Nativity Film Shows Christian Success in UK

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MOLD, North Wales - Christian leaders in the United Kingdom say a controversial equality bill could threaten Christmas celebrations.

Yet, the box office success of a new family film called "Nativity!" shows that the country's citizens are still enthusiastic about Christmas.

Locals in the Welsh town of Mold are concerned the government's equality bill could restrict nativity displays like one in their town.

"I think as a Christian country with free speech, we should be able to what we want at Christmas where it's a major festival for Christians," one resident said.

"I know a number of Muslims and Jews and people of other faiths and they are not offended by the Nativity displays," another added. "We are a Christian nation built on a Christian heritage."

The legislation, which was introduced in Parliament in April, was intended to root out discrimination. But according to Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, it's resulted in a number of cases effecting freedom of speech for Christians.

"Equality when it comes to Christians tends to mean unfairness and diversity tends to mean an enforced uniformity, especially when it comes to issues like Christian views on other religions and particularly Christian views on sexual ethics," he explained.

Now, Christian leaders believe the complex legislation will have the chilling effect of local governments and other organizations clamping down on religious festivities including school nativity plays for fear of offending other cultures.

But those efforts haven't slowed the strong box office showing of a new Christmas family movie. Set in Coventry, England, "Nativity!" centers around two schools vying to stage the best play in town. Nick Pollard, co-founder of the Christian educational charity Damaris Trust, says the Nativity is still a story and celebration that is popular throughout the UK.

"Well it's remarkable how many people of course want to see the Nativity story," he said. "It happens in schools across the country and particularly in this multi-faith culture we are here in Britain, many of other faiths, non-Christian faiths, they want to hear the message of Jesus. They want to hear about his birth. Of course with many of those faiths we share that in common."

Pollard says Jesus himself refused to play the political game and didn't shy away from those who might be offended by his message.

"If we follow Him then we mustn't fall into this trap of just tripping over all the time to be politically correct," he said. "I think it's important we tell the story fairly and accurately."

Pollard says the success of the Nativity film shows people do want to hear the Christmas story.

"Well it's remarkable how this film Nativity has opened well in the box office," he explained. "I think that's partly to do with the resources that we've packaged around it, but I think also it's to do with the fact that people want at Christmas a film that's actually about Christmas."

So despite the British government's efforts to remain politically correct and not offend others, the success of the Nativity movie, shows the story of Christ's birth should remain a popular event to be celebrated in the U.K. for many years to come.

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Peter Wooding

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