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Lily Allen's lesson for Easter

Lily Allen, once described by David Cameron as unsuitable listening for his daughter, is being recommended to churchgoers before Easter. Steven Croft, the Bishop of Sheffield, suggested Allen's song "The Fear" would put Bible students in the mood for a course entitled Exploring God's Mercy.

The radio version of the song - without expletives - by Lily Allen is recommended as a possible scene-setter before Bible study for church groups on a new Lenten course. The course book uses music, DVDs and podcasts as aids to preparation for Easter and has been drawn up by Dr Croft.

Dr Croft said he believed The Fear, with a theme of materialism and starting "I want to be rich and I want lots of money" captured a "certain spirit" of contemporary culture.

"It is not to play in public worship, it is suggested for groups to listen to if they want, there is a pretty clear instruction in the book to group leaders to check out the lyrics first and to make sure that they use the version that is played on the radio, not the unexpurgated version," Bishop Croft said.

He added that he thought The Fear was a "clever" song which used interesting puns.

"I think it captures a certain spirit of contemporary culture. I am not commending it as a way to think, but the song sums up a particular way of seeing the world which is very common, which is confused and afraid but also confident.

"I think she has captured something of the spirit of the age there. There is the kind of mindset expressed to which I think the Christian Gospel has a great deal to say."

Allen attracted headlines last year after David Cameron revealed he had told his then six-year-old daughter Nancy to stop listening to her songs because some of the sexual references in the singer's lyrics were inappropriate for a child of that age.

Dr Croft, a father of four now grown-up children, said he would not have let one of his children at primary school age listen to an unexpurgated version of Lily Allen.

Other additional material recommended for the course includes the Neil Diamond song Pretty Amazing Grace and clips from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the movie 2012.

The Lent period, traditionally a time of penance for Christians in the run up to Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday, March 9.

A spokesman for the bishop said: "The book is about not being frightened of the world in which we live."