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TV watchdog coalition preemptively protests Comedy Central development of Jesus cartoon

June 2, 2010 |  9:33 am

Conservative and religious groups that have long complained about the irreverent treatment of Christianity on Comedy Central have a new target: an animated series about Jesus Christ living in modern-day New York.

It’s unclear whether the show — one of 28 projects the network listed last month on its slate of potential programs for the coming season — will ever make it out of script development. But that hasn’t stopped a coalition of media watchdog groups from launching an effort to persuade advertisers to boycott the project, if it ever comes to fruition.

Here’s a description of the show from Comedy Central:

“A half-hour animated show about JC (Jesus Christ) wanting to escape his father's enormous shadow and to live life in NYC as a regular guy. A lot has changed in 2000 years and he is the ultimate fish out of water. Meanwhile his all-powerful yet apathetic father would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city. JC is a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb.” 

Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) plans to hold a conference call Thursday with reporters to denounce the show, which it decried as “an abomination purported to be entertainment.” The coalition includes the Media Research Center, the Family Research Council, the Catholic League, the Parents Television Council and the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, as well as radio talk show host Michael Medved.

The group says that the series would continue the network’s track record of mocking and disparaging Christianity, and argues that Comedy Central has a double standard when it comes to portrayals of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. In April, the network edited out references to Muhammad from an episode of “South Park” after a radical Muslim group warned that the show’s creators could end up killed for the portrayal.

Taking a page from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” CARB plans to release “an exclusive, four-minute video mash of some of Comedy Central’s most offensive portrayals of Jesus Christ and God to date.” An early sneak peek of the mash-up on the Media Research Center’s website consisted of scenes of Jesus and the pope from “South Park.”

“After we reveal the vile and offensive nature of Comedy Central’s previous characterizations of Jesus Christ and God the Father, we expect these advertisers to agree wholeheartedly to end their advertising on Comedy Central and discontinue their support for unabashed, anti-Christian discrimination,” said Brent Bozell, president of the MRC.

“Why should they be supporting a business that makes a habit of attacking Christianity and yet has a formal policy to censor anything considered offensive to followers of Islam? This double standard is pure bigotry, one from which advertisers should quickly shy away. After all, there are other avenues to redirect their advertising dollars in places that do not offend and alienate viewers. We will reconvene in the coming weeks to share the results of our appeal and the next steps we will take.”

Comedy Central had no comment.

— Matea Gold

twitter.com/mateagold

RELATED:

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

Jon Stewart says Comedy Central censored 'South Park' for safety reasons
 

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