Have they got pews for you

By Sarah Lagan

A new Christian newspaper hopes to change the face of religious
publishing by featuring everything you would expect in a red-top
tabloid, apart from a page-three girl.

In The Son, celebrities, sports, sex, film and hard-hitting comment
are all high on the agenda with 16 pages of news, features, sports and
comment relating to the Christian faith.

The quarterly’s first
issue sold 50,000 copies and 62,000 for its second through churches
across Britain. This figure may have been boosted by a Christmas launch
edition, followed by Easter and then the death of the Pope.

Editor
Hugh Southon has been a freelance sports writer on the News of the
World and elsewhere on national Sunday papers and publisher Steve Legg
is described as an evangelist, author and escapologist.

According
to Southon, who became a Christian eight years ago, there are plans to
get The Son into newsagents and take it monthly by next year and
ultimately daily.

Articles so far have included a damning
page-three review of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which it condemns
as “unholy”, and a plea on behalf of Childline to keep kids safe over
Easter from The Bill star Graham Cole, who plays PC Tony Stamp. BBC
pundit and former Chelsea and Newcastle midfielder Gavin Peacock has
joined the paper as sports editor and there is a small team of
freelance reporters.

Southon said: “When Steve approached me with
this idea I knew instinctively it was a phenomenal idea and I am
astonished at the response we have had. We live in a celebrityobsessed
culture and there’s a place out there for a relational, entertaining,
bright, breezy paper.

“We won’t be hammering the message to people and you won’t see the words redemption, forgiveness or any of that jargon.

“We
just want to get people starting from somewhere and asking ‘is there
something beyond ourselves?’ and Jesus is our core vision.”

Southon
said The Son hasn’t received any complaints about the concept of a
tabloid Christian paper, but he said an article on the faith of Chelsea
manager José Mourinho attracted complaints from a number of churches
due to his bad behaviour.

Southon said: “It’s sad really. People think Christians should be perfect, but we’re not, we’re just forgiven that’s all.”

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