The Labour Government consulted with the Church of England and other churches before reaching a decision. Leading figures within the Church of England, including Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, shamefully urged that the laws be repealed.
The British Board of Film Classification [BBFC], after having taken legal advice at the time, judged the film to be "potentially liable to prosecution". The film was therefore banned amid concerns that one particular scene could leave the film open to prosecution for blasphemous libel. It depicts a 16th Century Spanish nun St Teresa of Avila caressing the body of Jesus as He hung upon the cross. As this scene takes up half the running time of the film the only viable option was to refuse the film a classification.
Back in 1989 the film's Directer Nigel Wingrove unsuccessfully appealed the ruling within the UK and subsequently the distribution company took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1996. The court was asked to judge whether the existence of a law on blasphemy was consistent with the right of Freedom of Expression, guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Because of the changes to the law in 2008, the film has been resubmitted for classification and the BBFC considered it again this time under the present law. They deemed that the film is no longer likely to be considered illegal under any current legislation, nor was the film likely to be harmful to viewers under the terms of the Video Recordings Act. Although the BBFC recognised that the film retained the potential to offend some viewers, there were no longer any sustainable grounds to refuse a classification and Visions of Ecstasy was therefore given an '18' classification without any cuts.
Whether the law has changed or not the same likelihood to offend still stands. This film is 'gratuitously offensive' to quote the European Convention on Human Rights. It offends all who love Jesus Christ with a pure heart fervently. Jesus Christ was without sin. The book of Jude v8 gives a very apt description to those who peddle this type of filth. He describes them as 'filthy dreamers'. What kind of sewer pit mind must someone have to trawl these depths of depravity? It is hard to comprehend how utterly polluted must someone's mind be who dreams up a storyline like this. How accurate are the Scriptures when it reminds us that: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked… Jer 17:9.
The blaspheming of God is ever the spirit of Antichrist: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven, Revelation 13:6.
That spirit is developing more and more in this world. The epistle of James, the first to be written in the New Testament era, was not so much about doctrinal issues but rather one of its main themes is how Christians live in a wicked age. First century Christians were facing the same difficulties as we are increasingly seeing in the twenty-first century. James makes mention of those who blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ: Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? James 2:7.
The earnest desire of the true Christian today can be expressed in the words of the Psalmist: O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? Psalm 74:10.