“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” reads the narration from Psalm 22, as an ex-heroin user dons a crown of needles in a short video produced by Church of England. The film stars 46-year-old Robert Jones, an ex-prisoner and heroin user who quit after becoming involved with the church. At a press conference, Jones said: “I haven’t died but I feel like I’ve been resurrected away from a life of crime and trouble to peace, love, understanding, calmness.”
The film plays on the Christian themes of faith and triumph over adversity; Church of England communications director Rev. Arun Arora says: “From bereavement to addiction, from homelessness to imprisonment, Easter is a reminder that suffering doesn’t have the last word and that love is more powerful than the grave. Each of the stories is a testimony to the fact that love wins.”
The Church of England has seen a sharp drop in adherents, with weekly church attendance dipping below one million for the first time this year—so the arresting imagery also represents a new PR strategy.