A new Brazilian comedy on Netflix depicting Jesus as a gay man has caused alarm among evangelical Christians, prompting more than 2 million to sign a petition calling for its removal from the platform.
“The First Temptation of Christ,” produced by Porta dos Fundos, a Brazilian comedy group on YouTube, portrays 30-year-old Jesus returning home to visit Mary and Joseph and attend the birthday party his parents are throwing him. Jesus brings along a man named Orlando, who is presumed to be his boyfriend.
“Netflix didn’t produce this, but [it’s] giving a platform to people who made this content—[content] that’s grossly profane and sacrilegious,” said David Closson, director of Christian ethics and Biblical worldview at Family Research Council.
The show also characterizes Jesus as not wanting to be God’s Son. “I think I’d rather be Joseph’s son,” the character representing Jesus says.
“What Netflix has done has gone far beyond giving an alternate explanation,” wrote Tony Perkins on his Washington Update blog. “The choice to put this on their platform is a deliberate choice to make a mockery not only of Christians, but of the Christ they follow. As consumers the world over, we have a stewardship responsibility to speak up and take a stand. It’s good to see so many people in Brazil calling on Netflix to reconsider. I hope [Netflix] will listen to [its] viewers (or at least, former viewers).”
According to World Population Review, Brazil is home to more than 43 million evangelicals, and even more Catholics. Not surprisingly, the 45-minute episode—rated TV-MA for profanity, drug references and sexual innuendos—drew intense backlash.
Brazilian pastor and congressman Marco Feliciano said the show crossed a line.
“Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta do Fundo,” he posted on Twitter. “It’s time we took a collective action—churches and all good people—to put an end to this.”