We don't have anything like it in the States, but in England the Greenbelt festival is a music and arts festival for Christians that takes place in the middle of August. Many Christian groups, musicians, and speakers are invited representing a broad spectrum of Christianity in the UK. Recently, some evangelicals have been unhappy with their choice of speakers and have begun to boycott the festival. Strangely, ticket sales go up.
It has been around for 37 years, but last year Anglican Mainstream boycotted the festival because they invited Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire.
This year Anglican Mainstream is boycotting the event because they have invited human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who has worked closely with church groups on justice issues. Their website quotes an article in May published in the Church of England Newspaper:
Anglican Mainstream has posted a response from the festival on its website, which reads: “Each year Greenbelt hosts speakers with varying and sometimes contrasting views on a whole range of subjects. At any one time, we also ensure there are a range of lineup items that which they feel comfortable with.”
Dr Nolland told The Church of England Newspaper that this statement was disingenuous. Not only did she decry the absence of a speaker who could present “the orthodox Biblical position on sexual ethics,” she also suspected that the liberal campaigners were denying the voice of less palatable sexualities who might taint their case.
Ekklesia reports that ticket sales have not been affectted by the boycott:
...the boycott may even be helping the festival's popularity as many young Christians reject what they regard as an unChristian and bigotted message from the church's hardline wing, and seek what they see as a more faithful witness to the Christian Gospel.
Festival Director Gawain Hewitt said sales were up fifteen per cent on this time last year; the strongest sales since the festival relocated to Cheltenham in 1999.
“In a difficult economic environment,” said Hewitt, “where many festivals have struggled to survive, Greenbelt – an independent, not-for-profit festival – continues to flourish while our ticket prices remain low."
Hewitt, who started work as Festival Director earlier this year, continued: “Greenbelt is sometimes described as ‘the best festival you’ve never heard of’ but increasingly this is inaccurate. These record sales show that people are hearing about Greenbelt, and its unique approach to faith, arts and justice, and they like what they hear.”