Alex Blaze

Fear of a queer Jesus

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 12, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: Corpus Cristi, Jesus, tarleton state university, terrence mcnally

How corpus-christi.pngmany times has the American right beaten the story about the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing a "disrespectful" depiction of Mohammed in The Satanic Verses to show how primitive Muslim people are? I know they're beyond hypocrisy, but this is ridiculous.

A Fort Worth theater that had agreed to show a student-directed play with a gay Jesus character has withdrawn its offer.

The board of directors of Artes de la Rosa, which runs The Rose Marine Theater on North Main Street, decided Thursday against offering the venue for the production of Corpus Christi, just one day after saying it would. A March performance set for a directing class at Tarleton State University in Stephenville was abruptly canceled after the school received threatening emails.[...]

Adam Adolfo, executive director of Artes de la Rosa, said one "violent" threat had been posted on the Rose Marine Facebook page on Thursday.

"Fiscal repercussions and patronage were anticipated, but in terms of violence, we only received one" threat, he said.

"The combination of producing or hosting a production of this caliber and commentary is always difficult," he said. "The board of directors felt at this time that this was not the appropriate venue or appropriate organization to be hosting this particular play."

This isn't the first time this play has caused death threats. This play has a history of stirring up rightwing anger, going back to even before it was written.

A showing in New York City was canceled (but later restored) due to death threats in 1998:

MTC restored Corpus Christi to the schedule at a late-afternoon press conference May 28 at City Center, the company's base. The announcement capped a wild week in which MTC responded to death threats by withdrawing Corpus Christi from its schedule. The company subsequently drew fire from an angry theatre community, which accused MTC of censorship and cowardice. "In the face of these accusations, we took steps to further evaluate what has always been the only issue for us: safety and security," said Lynne Meadow, MTC's artistic director. "Within the last 24 hours, we have been in contact with New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir and his Intelligence Division which have been overwhelmingly supportive in stepping in to aid our endeavors and to give us the reasonable assurances we need to produce this play responsibly and safely."

Earlier in the day May 28 Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's office issued a statement, reading "Although the mayor doesn't agree with the tone of the play, threats of violence in New York City will not be tolerated."

Grove also read from a statement by playwright Athol Fugard, who said "I have boundless admiration for Lynne Meadow's courage and would be absolutely delighted to bring back my play The Captain's Tiger to the Manhattan Theatre Club." Fugard had responded to the removal of Corpus Christi by withdrawing on May 26 his own play, which had been slated for the company's upcoming season.

A grave Meadows said the theatre had been outraged by accusations from the theatre community that MTC had stooped to censorship. "In our 25-year history, we have never censored a play or turned down a play because of content." She then played a grainy tape of one of the death threats the theatre had received. The scratchy, hoarse voice on the tape said, in part, "This message is for Jew, guilty, homosexual Terrence McNally. Because of you we will exterminate every member of the theatre and burn the place to the ground. Death to Jews worldwide." The man said he spoke for something called the National Security Organization.

For the record, McNally is/was Christian, not Jewish.

A showing in the UK received the same critical reception in 1999:

Muslims regard Jesus as a messenger of God, and revere his mother, the Virgin Mary. The play was declared blasphemous by the Al-Muhajiroun - The Defenders of The Messenger Jesus.

Supporters of the group, which has around 800 members in the UK, handed out copies of the fatwah outside the play's first night at the small Pleasance Theatre, Holloway, north London.

The religious edict was signed by Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad, judge of the Shari'ah Court of the UK.[...]

"We would warn individual Muslims not to try to carry it out," Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad said.

However, it is reported police have warned Mr McNally about the fatwa.

The Google turned up this Ann Landers column from 1985, before Corpus Christi was written, about people's paranoia that there'd be a film depicting Jesus as gay:

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(If you can't read it, the Illinois Attorney General's office wrote to Ann Landers pleading that she help debunk the myth that there's a film in production that'll depict Jesus as gay. It says that there's no truth to it and that they've been flooded with calls and letters.)

This thing has a long history, and these folks have a very specific problem with Jesus being depicted as gay. It's not enough for them to have their own Christian beliefs, but everyone who's Christian is allowed only so much leeway.

So is this how the system is supposed to work? People don't like a play that they haven't even bothered to read or see, but they want to stop everyone else from seeing it? And they get away with it?

It's incredibly unfair - if people don't want to see this play they're under no obligation to go see it, but they have no right to keep everyone else from seeing it. All it does is make someone like me, who never would have otherwise heard about it and who isn't a gay Christian at all, actually want to it.

But maybe I won't ever since it seems that there will always be a rightwinger willing to take the "debate" to the next level and threaten violence and get it canceled. I'm not going to criticize the theater here for being cowardly and censoring a play because it's politically volatile since I don't know the nature of the threats, but one would hope that living in a supposedly free society would still count for something.

Oh well. I guess I just have the film version to wait for.


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Wait until they figure out he wasn't white too. Or a Christian.

Yes. I want to see the play about his mixed racial heritage as a Jew and those ancestors including the whore as well as David who pledged undying love to Jonathon. It's all right there in the Bible. A fascinating book.

Lynn Miller | April 13, 2010 2:48 AM

Gallaudet University was scheduled to perform Corpus Christi April 8-10. As far as I know, the play went off without a hitch, despite an online protest effort organized by the Catholic organization, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.