Australian civic leaders and Christians have joined forces in a controversial attempt to ban performances by androgynous shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

The most powerful opposition has come from the Gold Coast, a Queensland tourist resort scheduled to host the first of five concerts across Australia in January. Mayor Gary Baildon declared he would ban Manson after reading the band's lyrics, which include messages about suicide and drug use. Local Christians launched a petition backing the mayor and have collected 2,500 signatures.

Manson has built a career on trying to be outrageous, including releasing a song titled "Antichrist Superstar" and tearing up Bibles and imitating sex acts on stage. In Australia, promoter Vivian Lees refuses to withdraw Manson from the bill. "He's a controversial character," Lees says, "but the kids want to see him. He's a drawcard."

Some Christians are concerned the protest has only given Manson free publicity. Anglican minister Don Campbell would prefer a focus on keeping kids away. "If it's R-rated, then it should have an age restriction on the same basis as television and films," Campbell says.

After lengthy and heated debate, Gold Coast city council members have refused to ban Manson but have placed restrictive noise limits on the outdoor event. The final possibility of banning Manson rests with Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, who may refuse the singer an entry visa. Anyone entering Australia must satisfy character requirements and must not "incite discord or disharmony or vilify a sector of the community."

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