A coalition of religious and conservative leaders is trying to stop
a proposed Comedy Central cartoon that puts Jesus Christ in a modern-day context
– before it even gets started.
The newly formed Citizens Against Religious Bigotry said yesterday
that it believes the “JC” series would be offensive. They accuse Comedy Central
of a double standard in mocking Christian figures and beliefs while recently
refusing to let “South Park” depict the Prophet Muhammad for fear of offending
“You don’t have to be a Christian to be offended by this,” said
Brent Bozell, head of the watchdog Media Research Centre.
Comedy Central said last month that “JC” is one of two dozen series
it has in development. The concept is to depict Christ as a “regular guy” who
moves to New York to “escape his father’s enormous shadow”.
Network spokesperson Tony Fox noted that “JC” is nothing more than
an idea now, without even a completed script. In television, only a minority of
projects in development ever make it on the air.
Fox said the groups should save their energy for when a decision is
made about whether the series will ever be completed.
Aside from Bozell’s group, the coalition also includes the Catholic
League, the Parents Television Council and talk show host Michael Medved. They
said the coalition had written to 250 Comedy Central advertisers to alert them
to the show and already had 93 000 petition signals against it.
Comedy Central was the target of an internet threat recently from a
Muslim group for a South Park episode that supposedly showed Muhammad in a bear
costume. Like other media organisations, it resists showing a depiction of
Muhammad because many Muslims consider a physical description of the prophet to
Such depictions of Muhammad in other media have resulted in death
threats by fundamentalist Muslims against the purveyors.
“Does that indicate that Christians then are punished because they
aren’t crazy?” Medved asked, “that they get punished because their religion does
not encourage threats of violence?“
Fox would not discuss Comedy Central’s response to threats of
violence. The network’s programs haven’t avoided the issue of some of the
extreme forms of Islamic behaviour, with two South Park episodes addressing it
after the show’s creators were annoyed by the network’s efforts to alter their
The protesters said they hadn’t encouraged any advertisers to
boycott the network yet, saying they hoped making the issue public would
encourage Comedy Central to leave the idea on a shelf.
“I don’t think they’re going to have the guts to go ahead and do
this,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League