We must be free to call Jesus gay

Outraged Christians are calling for a ‘blasphemous’ comedic film to be banned.

Ben Thompson

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A new film on Netflix, The First Temptation of Christ, produced by Brazilian YouTube channel Porta Dos Fundos, has been controversial to say the least. Even a glimpse at the film’s synopsis makes clear why some Christians have raised an eyebrow. The comedy follows Jesus Christ as he returns to his family home for his 30th birthday, with his homosexual lover, Orlando, in tow. Most of the film revolves around Jesus trying to tell his parents – Mary, Joseph and a humanised God – about his secret.

The film’s worst sin is that it is not very funny. But Christians around the world are indignant about the film, purely because it is ‘blasphemous’. A petition on Change.org, calling for the film to be removed from Netflix and for Porta Dos Fundos to be held responsible for ‘the crime of villainous faith’, has gathered over two million signatures.

At the extreme end of the backlash, Porta Dos Fundos’ office in Rio de Janeiro was attacked by a Molotov cocktail on Christmas Eve. Nobody was injured, but the attack was a clear expression of intolerance. The Popular Nationalist Insurgency Command of the Large Brazilian Integralist Family – a far-right religious group – has claimed responsibility. It condemns the film as blasphemous.

It is totally understandable that Christians would find this film distasteful. But to call for it to be banned or to attack its producers on the grounds of religious decency is censorious and stupid. If atheists called for a religious film to be banned, would those Christians who signed the petition now be able to keep a straight face and cry ‘free speech’?

For as long as there have been works of poor taste, there have been people trying to ban them. A poem about a Roman soldier having sex with Jesus – James Kirkup’s ‘The Love that Dares to Speak its Name’ – was at the centre of the last successful blasphemy trial in the UK, thanks to the crusading efforts of Christian campaigner Mary Whitehouse.

Many Christians will proudly vouch for freedom of speech when it comes to their right to criticise same-sex marriage and transgenderism or other faiths. If they want to be consistent, they must not suppress views and artworks that they find offensive or blasphemous.

Ben Thompson is a writer. Follow him on Twitter: @BOThompson98

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

the slug

19th January 2020 at 10:59 pm

If someone, on this blog said the same about the founder of Islam – I bet the comment would be removed.

Dan Under

17th January 2020 at 11:44 pm

Cultural, religious societal, moral, ethical, sexual, (you get the point) iconoclastic fervour is the base load voltage of neo-Marxism. The desecration of belief by the disrespectful and vacant, the eradication of and dislocation from history, the detachment from tradition, these are the obvious and deliberate hallmarks of evil. Intentionally wounding for effect is the hallmark of the sociopath.

Jonathan Swift

17th January 2020 at 6:39 pm

I have a couple of positions on this topic.

1. Calling for a movie to be banned give is free publicity and promotes what you don’t to promote. Doubt me? Do a simple test. Randomly tell someone, “Don’t look over there!” How long does it take for them to look there?

2. The concept that Jesus was “gay” is nonsense without any historical or Biblical evidence.

3. God gave everyone the right to be wrong, which includes the right to blaspheme.

4. God doesn’t want us to obey Him because we have to, but He wants to to obey because we really want to.

5. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of their sins. It is not our job.

Aunty Podes

17th January 2020 at 10:26 pm

As a total fiction, gods have nothing whatever to do with this – or anything else.
Those obsessed with sexuality – be it devious or normal – will do anything they can to advertise their deviances and/or crudity. They are free to do so. Anybody with a smidgeon of sense will do their nest to simply ignore them.

Ken Bowker

20th January 2020 at 5:41 pm

Say what you want about ‘Jesus’; it’s a free country, since Labour lost. Because there is no proof that he or his equally-mythical father ever existed you might as well complain about Fozzy Bear or Donald Duck being ‘gay’ … shame; ‘gay used to be a lovely word.

Danny Rees

15th January 2020 at 12:52 am

“At the extreme end of the backlash, Porta Dos Fundos’ office in Rio de Janeiro was attacked by a Molotov cocktail on Christmas Eve. Nobody was injured, but the attack was a clear expression of intolerance. ”

Strangely many of the free speech libertarian warriors were silent about this.

Had this been Muslims doing this in protest against a piece of art that offended them and their religion the howls of outrage would have been deafening.

Nick McG

15th January 2020 at 10:15 am

To be fair, when Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed it wasn’t that big a news item. If they start killing people, it will.

steve Brown

14th January 2020 at 10:48 pm

If this film was about ISLAM would the same argument be put ?
(Ohhhhh ??? we need to tolerate the Leftist perversions and their agenda to destroy Western Civilization and its ethical foundations because we wish to defend free speech)
This film is aimed at destroying all that has been built on Christian ethics.

Danny Rees

15th January 2020 at 12:49 am

If such a film about Islam was made and it was banned on the grounds that it offends Muslims you would be screeching about how Islam/Muslims are a threat to freedom of speech.

steven brook

14th January 2020 at 8:55 pm

“they must not suppress views and artworks that they find offensive or blasphemous.” print the cartoons.

Willie Penwright

14th January 2020 at 8:09 pm

We may debate the offensiveness or otherwise of a film dealing with Christianity but we are all afraid to discuss, much less criticise, that other crowd. You know who I mean. Anything which the zealous wing of that religion deems offensive is met with death and we have all been silenced.

steve Brown

14th January 2020 at 10:50 pm

The Death Cult with child brides, FMG, stoning of adulterers, death to blasphemers etc etc is a protected cult which even the Left dare not mention

the slug

19th January 2020 at 10:50 pm

Quite right – what is applicable to Christians is also applicable to any other religion or where is the justice? The only reason you might not Insult Islam is sheer cowardice.

Alex Ander

14th January 2020 at 5:21 pm

Don’t really follow the logic in this article – we need free speech to call Jesus gay but not have free speech to critique it? Eh??

Danny Rees

15th January 2020 at 12:53 am

Where did the writer say this?

Nick McG

15th January 2020 at 10:25 am

I think it’s not really a free speech issue as Netflix is a private company and it’s not really similar to Facebook where there is an argument that it’s the new public square. What I don’t like is people trying to force their beliefs upon others. There are hundreds of titles on Netflix so why not just avoid this one rather than campaigning for it to be removed.

Jonathan Swift

17th January 2020 at 6:42 pm

This film is not a surprise coming from a company that put Bathhouse Barry on its board of directors.

Neil McCaughan

14th January 2020 at 5:16 pm

Not a very intelligent article. Certainly not a very courageous one. Mr Thompson would deserve a little more credibility if he penned a comedy about Mahound being gay.

But that’s never going to happen, is it?

Jonnie Henly

14th January 2020 at 5:55 pm

Why would that garner him more credibility?

Maybe you’d prefer him to do that, but that doesn’t make him more credible in the eyes of everyone else.

Neil McCaughan

14th January 2020 at 10:22 pm

Cluck cluck cluckety cluck. You’re a rambling idiot, unable to comprehend, but with this weird compulsion to offer your silly opinion.

Jonnie Henly

14th January 2020 at 5:59 pm

I think we can all guess pretty accurately what Neil would have to say if 2 million people had signed a petition condemning a film for being offensive to Muslims.

Neil is not a very intelligent person, nor a very courageous one.

Neil McCaughan

14th January 2020 at 10:25 pm

There are no doubts about my very considerable intellectual horsepower. And no doubts about your lack of it. Now off you toddle and grovel some more to your friends, the postal vote.

Danny Rees

15th January 2020 at 12:57 am

Ben Thompson didn’t write this comedy.

He is criticising those Christians who want it banned.

It seems you are saying works of art facing censorship and calls to be censored should only be given sympathy if they offend Muslims.

Steve Roper

14th January 2020 at 4:39 pm

Free speech is fine as long as it’s Christianity being ridiculed.

Suppose I made a movie about Mohammed being gay, or Abraham? I bet all those people screaming free speech would be nowhere to be found, and I’d be getting a lot more hate than one Molotov cocktail.

It’s this two-faced hypocrisy that enrages me. As long as you do not respect my freedom of speech to ridicule Islam or Judaism, I will never respect your free speech to ridicule Christianity.

Alex Ander

14th January 2020 at 5:26 pm

No – free speech is fine, but if you don’t have the freedom to also voice criticism also then it’s a form of censorship.
People (Christians) have the freedom to complain just as much as people have the freedom to make films in the first place.
The irony of free speech is that you have to be able to tolerate people who criticise free speech.

Nick McG

15th January 2020 at 6:45 pm

It’s more the fact that certain Christians want to stop other people seeing it. It’s that kind of mentality that I hate.

Jonnie Henly

14th January 2020 at 5:54 pm

Fine, but we all know in that scenario that the same people getting outraged now would be defending it as “free speech”.

Why do you not condemn their hypocrisy also? In fact, that in itself is rather hypocritical of you.

Jonnie Henly

14th January 2020 at 5:58 pm

And either way, whataboutery is not a valid reason to oppose freedom of speech.

Nick McG

14th January 2020 at 4:35 pm

I was listening to an American podcaster, Matt Walsh, saying that we should cancel our Netflix subscriptions because Netflix was condoning the film. I’d just prefer not to watch it. Netflix doesn’t have to cater to everyone’s exact tastes. The only good point he made is that Netflix wouldn’t show a similar film about Islam. That’s true but only because they want their heads to still be attached to their bodies.

Francis Lonergan

14th January 2020 at 4:09 pm

Remember Lauren Southern’s treatment for her poster?

Jane 70

14th January 2020 at 2:04 pm

It will never match up to ‘The Life of Brian’, which was silly, funny and irreverent, without being offensive.

Michael Lynch

14th January 2020 at 1:39 pm

Christians May well indeed raise objections, as is their right in a free world, but I doubt that they’ll kill anyone over it.

Nick McG

14th January 2020 at 4:37 pm

They might have done in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aikenhead but it is true what you say. It’s a pity a minority of Muslims give the religion such a bad name.

Neil McCaughan

14th January 2020 at 5:17 pm

Aikenhead’s persecutors were Scots, rather than Christians.

Jonnie Henly

14th January 2020 at 5:53 pm

What’s the difference Neil?

Nick McG

14th January 2020 at 6:47 pm

Neil, he was convicted of what we’d call blasphemy. Your comment is analogous to saying that the Paris attackers were French/Belgian not Muslims.

Jim Lawrie

14th January 2020 at 9:06 pm

You are wrong Neil. It was not a peculiarity of being Scottish that motivated them to do this. They were Christians. Do you have something against the Scots that causes you to make such a bizarre post?

Jim Lawrie

14th January 2020 at 9:07 pm

An example of deflective whataboutery.

Those days are long gone and we do not need them back.

Nick McG

15th January 2020 at 10:17 am

Jim, it’s not whataboutery at all. The comment was made that Christians wouldn’t kill in the name of their religion but they have done in the past. The Bible hasn’t changed so there are obviously other factors at play such as secularism.

Jonathan Swift

17th January 2020 at 6:48 pm

What is you definition of “Christian”?
Is it a cultural definition?
Is it a church membership definition?
Is it Jesus’ definition? https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A21-23&version=NIV

Ben Warfield

14th January 2020 at 1:37 pm

Freedom of speech is essential to any functioning society, however there also be punishment for hate speech, or the likes of which is designed to incite hatred.

The author here seems to have a very poor understanding of what free speech is stating: “Many Christians will proudly vouch for freedom of speech when it comes to their right to criticise same-sex marriage and transgenderism or other faiths.”

The fact that the comparison is so far from what we are dealing with here highlights the free speech-hate speech distinction.

Criticism of same-sex marriage and transgenderism and other faiths all have one thing in common. They are critiques of ideologies. When those critiques become mockery then they cease to be free speech, but are hate speech.

Stating a fact about a persons activities; a movements impacts or a ideologies consequences are simply that. Facts.

Creating a fantasy with the sole intent to mock a religious (or frankly any important belief) is really a pathetic attempt to side step that.

Civilisation is built on dialogue. Hate speech attempts to prevent that. Which is why it ought not be tolerated in a democracy.

Harry 65

14th January 2020 at 3:51 pm

I think it’s you that has a poor understanding of what free speech is. There is no such thing has ‘hate speech’, there are only opinions you agree with and those you don’t. If you want to be personally offended by someone else’s words you can be but so what, you don’t get to decide who is allowed to say what and when. Incitement to violence is a crime but mocking an ideology, however sincerely held by however many people, isn’t and must be tolerated in any democratic society.

Danny Rees

15th January 2020 at 12:57 am

You would not say hatred against Jews is hate speech? Is it just an opinion.

Harry 65

15th January 2020 at 12:18 pm

Danny Rees: Hatred against Jews is not speech of any kind (it’s a personal belief or opinion) until it’s verbalised – that’s what speech is. You and I my not agree with it but in a democracy everyone should have the right to express their belief’s without fear of persecution. However, inciting violence against a person or enacting violence against a person based on those beliefs (or for any reason) would be and is a crime. Categorising speech we don’t like as hate speech so as to make it forbidden marks the death of free speech and we should be very wary of those that promote it, however good their intentions appear to be.

Nick McG

14th January 2020 at 4:32 pm

Hate speech is free speech. Imagine if the Church had succeeded in outlawing dissent against its teachings under the guise of it being ‘free speech’. And I’m saying this as a Christian.

steve Brown

14th January 2020 at 10:52 pm

When you talk about hate speech you are giving a free pass for the new Stalin, or Mao to arise from their graves

Ven Oods

14th January 2020 at 1:23 pm

The fulminators will achieve what they did for The Satanic Verses – guarantee success for something that would otherwise have died quietly.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

14th January 2020 at 12:57 pm

That looks like the worst film in human history (except Cats). If you haven’t already given your life to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, then please read any of the four Gospels and do so soon.

Harry 65

14th January 2020 at 4:16 pm

I feel the need to congratulate you for having found the time to watch every film made in human history in order to arrive at your conclusion. Do I assume the same level of due diligence has been applied to your appraisal of your main man JC?

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