BBC’s ‘Gunpowder’ Shows The High Cost Of Belief

By Fin Sheridan

Bonfire Night has been and gone (your pets will be pleased!). To mark the season, the BBC released a 3 part series ‘Gunpowder’, with the final part airing last weekend. Starring big names such as Game of Thrones star Kit Harington, Doctor Who and Sherlock writer, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler, ‘Gunpowder’ explores the events leading up to the Gunpowder Plot from the perspective of Robert Catesby, the actual mastermind behind it. Catesby wanted to overthrow the Protestant leadership of the UK and instead place it under Catholic rule.

Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that this article isn’t an endorsement of ‘Gunpowder’. It’s incredibly graphic, with many viewers shocked at the torture scenes depicted in episode 1. During this period, Britain was divided in terms of faith. There were deep disagreements between Catholics and Protestants.

Episode 1 of ‘Gunpowder’ shows this in horrific detail as members of Catesby’s family are persecuted for their Catholic beliefs. There were close-up scenes of a young priest being hung, drawn and quartered and a woman stripped naked before being crushed to death by large stone, with weights placed on top of it.

“These freedoms come with a responsibility – to live for Jesus, boldly and publicly.”

Whilst many readers won’t go and watch this (and rightly), I couldn’t help but be stirred by the deep religious conviction showed by Catesby and his relatives. Before Lady Dorothy Dibdale is crushed to death, she is given chance to renounce her faith. She does not. During the torture, she again refuses to sway from her beliefs. In a world where millions of Christians face imprisonment, torture and death for their faith, these scenes are far too familiar for many around the world. They are hard to watch and yet, for many of our brothers and sisters, they are the very real price for their belief in Jesus Christ.

Open Doors, an organisation that supports and reports on the persecuted church detail the incredibly difficult circumstances that many Christians live in. Whilst hiding behind my hands, I felt again the conviction: my Christianity is so convenient, so safe. I go to church without fear. I read my Bible openly. I am protected by law. Nepal has just made evangelism illegal, yet I can invite anyone to church. These freedoms come with a responsibility – to live for Jesus, boldly and publicly.

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