Jewish, Christian, and conservative leaders are lambasting JC, the new Comedy Central parody about Jesus Christ, as a "vile and offensive" example of anti-Christian bigotry.
The Citizens Against Religious Bigotry organization announced Thursday it has sent letters of protest to over 250 leading television advertisers, imploring them not to sponsor the JC show. The letter describes the program as "blasphemous."
"We are urging you to hold back your advertising dollars from such an abomination purported to be entertainment," the letter states.
L. Brent Bozell III, the founder and president of the Media Research Council conservative watchdog organization, said on a media conference call Thursday: "Anyone who advertises on this show will be a sponsor of anti-Christian bigotry in our view."
He said the program "is designed to mock, and designed to ridicule, and designed to be offensive to Christians. At this point, we say enough is enough."
According to a recent column by Bozell, the program depicts "Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York City to escape his 'powerful but apathetic father.' God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ is the 'ultimate fish out of water.'"
Social conservatives say the program seeks to ridicule Christian beliefs by poking fun at Christ.
The Citizens Against Religious Bigotry organization is circulating a petition imploring Comedy Central to cancel the program, which is now in script-development stage.
Over 95,000 people have signed the petition in the past week, Bozell said.
Other members of the group protesting the program include Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League; nationally syndicated talk radio host Michael Medved; Family Research Council President Tony Perkins; Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council; and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of The American Alliance of Jews and Christians.
The group's leaders say Comedy Central has displayed a "glaring double standard" when it comes to which religions it will satirize.
In April, a South Park episode on Comedy Central, which depicted the Muslim founder Muhammad in a bear costume, sparked veiled threats of violence. In a subsequent episode, all references to Muhammad were bleeped out.
The Citizens Against Religious Bigotry says the channel remains willing to ridicule Christians, however, in what Bozell calls a "glaring double standard."
"Does that indicate that Christians then get punished because they aren't crazy?" Medved asked Thursday. "That 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? That would be a sad double-standard indeed."
Donohue predicts the group will ultimately prevail in its opposition to the program.
"I think in this coalition we could win here, which is why I don't think they're going to have the guts to go ahead and do this. 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. And if they do 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," Donohue said. "But absent a boycott I don't think that these people are going to pay attention to us. But if they get enough Christians and Jews who have said enough is enough, they'll get the message."
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, said his support for the anti-bigotry organization stems from his belief that it is in the interest of Jewish people to defend Judeo-Christian values.
"As an orthodox Jewish Rabbi, I know that nowhere in the past 2,000 years have Jews enjoyed as lengthy, as prosperous, and as tranquil a stay as here in the United States of America. And I believe passionately this is not in spite of, but precisely because of the vitality of American Christianity and because of its centrality within American civilization.
"Unlike Europe, with its seemingly insurmountable problems, thank God America is a Christian nation as I see it," he told reporters. "And thus it becomes in my view of paramount Jewish interest to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Christian brethren in defense of the Judeo-Christian values which underpin so much of our civil society."
The orthodox rabbi added that Christianity should be as protected from ridicule as are other religions.
"To restrict the use of ridicule and mockery only against Islam, I think is a sort of a pathetic amalgam of cowardice and hypocrisy," he said. "Claims of standing up against censorship and so on lose all credibility on the part of the [Comedy] Channel."
The Comedy Channel, which is owned by Viacom, did not immediately respond Thursday to a Newsmax request for comment. It has not indicated a timetable for developing a pilot.
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