Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More reason for decline in the West?


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Eve Gets Naked in Church

December 23, 2005

What to do if you're a church youth group leader and need some money? Make an erotic calendar of course. That's what Stefan Wiest did in Germany.

In April, the youth group of the Lutheran congregation of Katzwang decided to come up with a fundraiser; the youth center rooms needed a new coat of paint. Somebody thought of making a calendar, one that could be sold in the community. The members of the youth group would be the models, depicting scenes from the Bible, but in a modern interpretation. Oh, and the calendar should be erotic, too. Why not, after all?

Nude photos it was.

They wanted to do everything properly: parents were informed, the pastor was asked to suggest suitable excerpts from the bible. Everyone under 18 needed written permission from their parents. A few members of the church board felt that showing naked women in the church was offensive, but they were clearly in the minority.

And so they took a few photographs. An exhibition was planned. Created a Web site. The young people thought about maybe advertising as well, otherwise nobody might come. The pastor talked to the evangelical press service and the church newspaper Sonntagsblatt. The next day he got a call from a Munich paper tz. "Why are you interested in our calendar?" he asked. He could hardly believe it. Why, Munich is 150 km away.

Soon thereafter, the Internet server crashed. A Reuters report on the bible calendar had been distributed across the globe, along with the Web site address. Within three days the site received 6 million hits, the entire first print run of the 2,000 calendars were sold, at €12.50 a pop. The next 3,000 copies were also snapped up and Wiest was forced to remove the order form from the site -- they just couldn't cope with any more customers.

Wiest gave interviews to the BBC, Colombian radio and dozens of German stations, while orders were coming in from Korea, India and the USA. Suddenly, there were arguments amongst the parish council, hostile reactions from Christian fundamentalists and criticism from the Catholic bishop. Last Thursday the parish community released a statement: It was never their intention to offend the religious feelings of others, the statement said.

Then the TV film crews got in on the act.

In the meantime these young people have got organized. The calendar has already made €40,000.

In Nuremberg-Katzwang the models have achieved a sort of notoriety, and they even seem to have achieved the original aim of the whole project: to get people interested in the Bible.

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