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Conservative leaders say Comedy Central allows mockery of Christians because they don't threaten violence

June 3, 2010 | 10:01 am

Conservative and Christian leaders on Thursday accused Comedy Central of having a double standard in its depiction of religious satire as they launched an effort to dissuade advertisers from sponsoring a potential new animated series about Jesus.

The project, “JC,” which would feature Jesus living in modern-day New York and coping with an indifferent God, is one of many ideas the network has in script development, and it may never get picked up as a series. But that hasn’t stopped a new coalition of media watchdog groups, calling itself Citizens Against Religious Bigotry, from lambasting the cable channel for its programming.  The group released a three-minute mash-up of scenes from Comedy Central shows such as “South Park” and “The Sarah Silverman Program” that send up figures such as Jesus, God and the pope.

“We know that they’re jumping up and down with glee feeling that they’re getting all sorts of publicity because of our efforts,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “On the other hand, we’re not going to remain silent on this anymore.”

Bozell said the coalition sent letters to 250 major television advertisers asking them not to run commercials on the show, should it ever air.

In a conference call with reporters, the coalition’s leaders noted that Comedy Central censored references to the Prophet Muhammad in a recent episode of “South Park” after a radical Muslim website suggested the show’s creators could be killed because of the depiction.

“You could say, ‘Well yes, they pulled back because of threats of violence,’” said syndicated radio host Michael Medved. “Does that indicate that Christians then get punished because they’re not crazy? They get punished because their religion doesn’t encourage people to commit acts of violence, that we’re only going to respond affirmatively to the concerns of religious groups that threaten the most appalling kinds of reactions?”

In a statement released in response, Comedy Central did not specifically address its decision-making regarding "South Park." 

" 'JC’ at this point is an idea and an idea only," said spokesman Tony Fox. "Perhaps the Citizens Against Religious Bigotry should save their energy for the moment if and when this series ever makes it to air.”

On the conference call, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said an advertising boycott of the show was necessary to get through to the network.

“I don’t want to ever see the Christian population get to the point where they have to mimic some segments in the radical Muslim community,” he said. “And if they do, then I guess we’ll have to wonder, what is the root cause of that? I think we can do this through a peaceful nonviolent approach.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, warned that Comedy Central shouldn’t “confuse the civility of Christianity with weakness."

“And I think if that’s the case, they may be shocked, because I do believe they’ve gone too far in this,” he added.

-- Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

RELATED:

TV watchdog coalition preemptively protests Comedy Central development of Jesus cartoon

Censoring of 'South Park' episode underscores struggle to balance free speech and religious sensitivities

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