Christian Right Group Tries to Kill Comedy Central Show About Jesus

A new organization has been formed by the US religious right to attack a program that hasn't yet reached pilot stage. JC, a Comedy Central cartoon about Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York, does not have a completed script, but Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (Carb) are calling on advertisers to force the channel to abort it.

Carb, starchier than your average lobbyists, are particularly exercised by the contrast with the way Comedy Central backed down on airing scenes involving Muhammad in South Park, fearing violence. "Does that indicate that Christians then are punished because they aren't crazy?" asked the talk show host and Carb Michael Medved.

So censorship goes pre-emptive, a TV show doesn't even have to be made in order to offend, and the duty to protect the unborn has no relevance to works of creativity. I suppose it's not so big a leap as all that to banning things that don't exist yet for those who devote their careers to banning things they haven't seen.

Religion is all about mystery, and nothing is so mysterious as the minds of the professionally offended. One mystery is what kind of God they serve.

He is said to be Almighty, and yet desperately needs sticking up for. His emotional maturity is not the subject of any creeds but surely something you would assume of the perfect source of all being, if it weren't for his total inability to take any joke featuring himself (or sex for that matter). He tells his followers to turn the other cheek if they are assaulted themselves, but if people make fun of him expects his followers to hit them where it hurts.

The Bible gives us rather conflicting impressions of God's attitudes to this kind of thing, but none of them fit very well with the God of Carb. There's the God of Moses and his successors, pockets full of locusts, boils and thunderbolts, just itching to strike down blasphemers, including those who touch the ark of the covenant to stop it from falling. Sure, this sounds very religious right, but if he really has such an arsenal at hand and the petulance to use it at the drop of an ark, does he really need or want charcoal-suited lobbyists fighting his battles for him by attacking the forces of darkness's advertising revenue?

The Bible also gives us the rather different example of Jesus, the well-known homeless, penniless preacher, who submitted to humiliation and mockery rather more savage than anything Comedy Central might deliver, and who told his followers that their attitude should be the same as his. He told them not to fight back when their faith was attacked and ridiculed, but to count it a blessing.

The letters of St Paul repeatedly point out that the way for believers to stop others blaspheming is not to deserve it. But the humility, gentleness and self-awareness of the New Testament can seem more Christ-like than Christian.

If God has little need of protection from hurt feelings or dented pride, there remains the mystery of whose pride campaigners are defending, and the obvious answer would seem to be their own. Blasphemy dents their sense of honor, by insulting their religion, and what Christians call serving God could often be called self-serving.

Do you know who was the first person in Christian history to be executed for blasphemy? Jesus. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" says the high priest at Jesus's trial according in Mark's gospel. "They all condemned him as deserving to die."

It is a point that ought to give pause to Christians who use their collective muscle to stop people offending against the faith. The defense of God is a tradition we can trace back from the post-Christian west through inquisitions and councils to the gospels, and when we get there Jesus is not on the side that some of us might have assumed.

Carb, as Medved would doubtless want to point out, do not want to kill anyone. But they want to silence creativity before it has had a chance to create, which is a pretty lousy way to behave.


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