The Church of England’s (C of E) latest attempt to attract more young people into its congregation has met with a hostile response from both the authorities and other religious bodies. “I’m afraid that there is only so long that we can tolerate the sight of vicars hanging around outside schools and nightclubs, offering drugs to adolescents,” said South Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Harry Hambone, as he announced a major drugs crack down in Leeds, where the C of E’s initiative is being piloted. “We’ve only turned a blind eye this long in deference to the fact that they are men of the cloth and therefore weren’t gaining any personal benefit from it – my men had been assured that all proceeds from drug sales were going to church roof repair funds.” The police’s change of stance resulted from several sightings of Anglican Bishops in full religious regalia driving through several of the city’s most deprived estates in expensive cars. “They were absolutely dripping with bling – silver crucifixes, robes threaded with gold, velvet mitres, the bloody lot,” explained Hambone. “You can’t tell me that they can afford that kind of clobber on the proceeds of legitimate ecclesiastical activity! These bastards are taking the piss and we’re going to nick them!” It isn’t only the legal basis of the C of E’s latest youth initiative which is causing concern, but also its theological basis. “It is outrageous that men of God should be selling drugs to teenagers,” declared Bishop Walter Winkler of the World Council of Churches. “I’ve searched the Holy Bible in vain to find some kind of precedent for this bizarre behaviour. Surely getting people hooked on narcotics is not the way to stem falling church attendances – whatever happened to simply spreading Christ’s message of divine love?” However, the Church has been quick to try and justify its new programme, arguing that it is both non-profit and entirely compatible with the teachings of Christ. “Our clergymen never sell drugs,” says Archdeacon Howard Hose, the mastermind behind the project, “although we do, of course, encourage donations.” He maintains that the actions of the vicars involved are entirely in keeping with the Church’s mission to spread the word of God. “Look, these tablets we’re handing out, whilst we freely admit that they have a pharmaceutical origin, they’re not actually drugs in the conventional sense,” he argues. “They don’t just give you any old high – they actually take you to heaven! Really – they afford a glimpse of the actual Kingdom of God! It isn’t addiction which brings people back for more – it is sheer devotion!”

According to Hose, the drug enables the Church to avoid one of the main obstacles to recruiting new followers. “Traditionally we spend all our time asking them to believe that it is worthwhile worshipping God and doing good works because they’ll be rewarded in heaven – after they are dead! That’s not really much of an incentive, is it?” he points out. “With this new substance – which we like to call ‘paradise’ – we can actually show them exactly what it is we’re asking them to work toward!” Hose also claims that the paradise pills themselves are God-given. “They’re like manna from heaven,” he enthuses. “They were discovered by one of our priests who had lost his faith and turned to sex, drink and drugs to try and fill the resulting void in his life.” One night, as he lay stinking in the gutter in his urine-stained trousers and vomit-flecked shirt, the former priest made the decision to end his life, overdosing on the drugs he had just scored from a street dealer. “As he tripped toward eternity, instead of oblivion, he found himself given a vision of heaven and found himself filled with the love of the Almighty!” enthuses Hose. “Over a heavenly beer, Christ himself explained that he had been chosen to return to Earth and spread the good word about this new drug!” Nevertheless, convincing the Church authorities of the heavenly properties of the drug wasn’t easy. “Nobody would listen to what seemed like the demented ravings of a drug addled derelict. However, he tracked down the dealer and obtained a further quantity of the drug from him,” explains the Archdeacon. “He then resorted to unorthodox measures, spiking the Diocesan Bishop’s tea with it at a local garden fete!” Amazingly, the Bishop experienced the same vision as the down and out priest. “That’s the clincher, you see,” opines Hose, “everyone who uses paradise has the exact same vision of heaven! They all describe it as being like a huge pub with many bars, where the beer is never off, the staff are never rude, your bladder is never full, everybody gets merry but not drunk, there are no pub bores, time is never called and everyone at the karaoke can sing in tune. Oh yes, and smoking is allowed!”

The full might of the Church of England swung into action to track down the supplier of this amazing new drug. “He turned out to be some chemistry graduate operating from a makeshift lab in his garage,” says Hose. “We made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – absolution from all sins, a guaranteed posthumous sainthood and a ten per cent cut from the church roof funds – and he gave us the formula.” The C of E now boasts of several dedicated labs based in church crypts, staffed by dedicated nuns and mass producing the paradise pills. “We had to tinker with the formula a bit to maximize the pills’ effectiveness,” Hose explains. “We found that the best effect was gained after each batch was blessed by a priest before going out onto the streets. We also recommend them being swallowed with our own official holy water – available in bottles, carbonated or non-carbonated, from all C of E churches in exchange for a modest donation!” However, the pilot scheme in Leeds has found itself under threat not just from the police, but also from local drug dealers. “How are we supposed to make a living when these holier-than-thou bastards are giving the stuff away?” complains local dealer Carl Ginch, who has seen his trade decline so much that he is now down to his last two solid gold chains and has had to downsize from a Range Rover to an Audi. “How would they like it if we came around their gaffe and started preaching, eh?” The appearance of a rival holy drug – rapture – on the streets of Leeds has led to fears of a turf war. “So far it is only being peddled in small quantities to hardcore Jesus freaks by a breakaway evangelical group,” says a worried Hose, “but if it falls into the hands of regular drug dealers, the streets could be swamped with the devilish stuff!” Rapture, a paradise derivative taken intravenously, is sold with the slogan ‘Mainline your way to God’, and produces a heavenly vision so powerful that it inevitably proves fatal; the user expiring with an expression of ecstasy on their face. “Why just give them a glimpse of God’s Kingdom when you can take them straight there?” a spokesperson for the evangelical group behind rapture told The Sleaze. “This is the one and only guaranteed way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – only sinners are rejected and are returned to this Hell we call Earth!”