Imagining Jesus as a modern-day black man may be a curious theme for a television comedy, but when Time Warner’s Cartoon Network made their “Black Jesus” a dope-smoking, heavy-drinking, frequent dropper of “f”-bombs, some labeled it “blasphemy.”
“‘Black Jesus’ is not only an ugly attack on Christianity, but a horrible example of racism,” asserted David Outten, Production Editor of the Christian media ministry Movieguide. “It implies that, if Jesus Christ were black, he would be vulgar and use drugs and alcohol. It also presents the African American community he comes to using the worst of black stereotypes.”
In fact, the trailer for the program shows “Black Jesus,” when confronted by his pals for smoking up all their marijuana, defending himself by declaring, “You do realize I died for your motherf—-ing sins, right?”
It’s no wonder Variety’s TV critic Brian Lowry said “Black Jesus,” which premiered Aug. 7 at 11:00 p.m. ET during the network’s Adult Swim programming, is guaranteed to offend some people.”
The show stars Gerald “Slink” Johnson as a modern-day black Jesus living in Compton, California, spreading “love and kindness” according to Turner Broadcasting System’s news release.
In a statement, Adult Swim said, “‘Black Jesus’ is a satire and one interpretation of the message of Jesus played out in modern-day morality tales; and despite what some may consider a controversial depiction of Jesus, it is not the intent to offend any race or people of faith.”
But Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms, said the show is “blasphemous, irreverent and disrespectful.”
In a statement, Cole’s organization declared the show “makes a mockery of our Lord. The foul language used in the trailer, including using the Lord’s name in vain, is disgusting. In addition, there is violence, gunfire and other inappropriate gestures which completely misrepresent Jesus. This is blasphemy!”
“I gathered our youth group and had them sit and watch the trailer of the show,” said Kerry Burkey, senior pastor at the 300-member Rockledge Church of Christ in Rockledge, Florida.
“It was horrible, disgusting and completely offensive,” Burkey told USA Today. “Down to a person, everyone in the youth group was offended. It just shows where we are a nation. … We have no respect for God.”
“This program isn’t a case of accidental offense,” adds Movieguide Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr. “It’s a very purposeful mockery and ridicule of African Americans, Jesus Christ and Christianity.”
Author of “The Culture-Wise Family” and “How to Succeed in Hollywood (Without Losing Your Soul),” Dr. Baehr is also chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, which is organizing a protest against the controversial program.
Together with Movieguide, Baehr is asking people to e-mail John Martin, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, requesting he cancel the program.
On its own website, Turner Broadcasting claims, “We can’t begin truly to serve our customers until we listen to and support one another. We’ve made it a company priority to access the broadest possible range of perspectives, consider a multiplicity of voices and value cultural differences. It’s both a business imperative and a matter of respect.”
“Who was Turner Broadcasting listening to and supporting when they produced and scheduled ‘Black Jesus’?” writes Outten. “Do they think they no longer have any Christian customers? Do they no longer want Christian customers?”
“Clearly,” Dr. Baehr added, “Turner Broadcasting wants to appeal to a much smaller audience that excludes the 123 million people who go to church every week and the 80 percent of the country who believe in the God of the Bible. Christians should seriously consider granting them their wish.”
A trailer for the program can be seen below (Editor’s note: The video contains language – some bleeped out, some not – that may be offensive to some viewers):