(Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)
In the weeks leading up to Easter, the big story in the United States is the History Channel's miniseries, "The Bible," but across the pond, BBC's Radio 4 series, "Lent Talk," is broadcasting six lectures on abandonment, in which journalist Benjamin Cohen compares the gay community's experience to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Cohen, a former Channel 4 News reporter and founder of the gay news website PinkNews and co-founder of Out4Marriage.org, presented a controversial 14-minute lecture on his experience growing up as an Orthodox Jewish boy who attended Christian prep schools and even performed in nativity plays.
The lecture is honest and introspective, but it's also offensive to Christians who believe that comparing anyone's lot in life to the sacrifice of Jesus, humanity's lord and savior, is blasphemous.
Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, told The Telegraph that: "To link this experience to that of Christ is to misunderstand the biggest event in history – it is blasphemous."
Cohen, who has been campaigning for marriage to be re-defined in England, cites Psalm 21 and Matthew 27 to link his life as a gay Jewish man growing up in 1980s Britain, in which he feared persecution and abandonment by his family and community, to the life of Jesus.
Reading from the Scripture Matthew 27:46, when Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Cohen compares England's abandonment of the gay community with the Jewish priests' treatment of Jesus, and ultimately, his crucifixion.
In his own life, Cohen says he's received support from his family and religious community; but in his lecture, he said he's angry with the religiously devout who are holding on to their firmly held opposition to gay marriage.
The Christian Institute, a nondenominational Christian charity in England that is committed to upholding the truths of the Bible, is accusing the BBC of pushing a liberal gay rights agenda in an effort to undermine Christians.
"This is typical of the BBC's socially liberal bias which tries to distort the Christian message at every turn, a spokesman for The Christian Institute said in a statement. "Using the crucifixion to push a gay rights agenda is a new low, even for the BBC. It's yet another slap in the face to every Christian who pays the licence [sic] fee."
Yesterday, Cohen presented his testimony to members of Parliament who sit on the Public Bills Committee, which is considering proposals to change marriage laws in England to allow same-sex marriage.
In his broadcast, Cohen asks religious parents if the really want to reject their children for something they, in his opinion, cannot help, "just as the Jewish authorities rejected Jesus for something he considered he couldn't help: being the son of God."