Political commentator and comedian John Fugelsang is developing a primetime show on Current TV that will tackle politics and religion, particularly taking aim at the "Christian right."
"[T]his show of mine will focus on the hypocrisy of the Christian right," Fugelsang told TheWrap this week.
The Long Island, N.Y., native has been unreserved about his disagreement with conservative Christians and he believes they're distorting who Jesus is.
"I view Jesus much the way I view Elvis," Fugelsang, the son of ex-Catholic clergy, said, according to Current TV. "I love the guy, but some of the fan clubs terrify me. I want to do with the religious right what Eliot Spitzer is doing with Wall Street. I want to take the Bible back from the creeps."
Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church, believes the show could actually be helpful to Christians.
"[W]hen I hear evangelical Christians or conservative Christians mocked or viewpoints of the Bible made fun of, I personally don't get mad or upset," he said to The Christian Post in an email. "I do, however, like to read what the criticisms are and see if what is being said is valid or not as we all have things to learn from people who disagree with our viewpoints."
Kimball, who oversees the teaching and mission at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., isn't surprised by some of the statements Fugelsang has made against conservative Christians.
The comedian has stated on Current TV that Jesus was "never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion, never mentioned premarital sex."
He also told TheWrap that Jesus was one of the most liberal characters in history and "quipped that parts of the bible say eating pork is a sin," as reported by the news organization.
Such arguments have been made many times before, Kimball noted. And the California pastor is surprised that "we are still hearing them as they aren't very valid ones (arguments)."
While Kimball agreed that Jesus did not hate gays and did not mention abortion or premarital sex, the pastor noted that Jesus also didn't directly speak on sex trafficking, single people or post-marital sex either.
"To make arguments from silence about what Jesus believes or doesn't can be taken to make cases about all kinds of things," he maintained. "We can look at what Jesus positively spoke of as examples of marriage or human rights or how human beings should treat each other."
Kimball further noted, "Jesus wasn't right-winged but he wasn't left-winged either. He was truth-winged with a focus on loving people, despite when he called out hypocrisy or false truths that people wouldn't necessarily like to hear."
In response to the "pork" argument, the Vintage Faith pastor contended that one has to consider the difference of ceremonial and temple law, moral law and civil law in the Bible.
"That passage (about pork) was not moral law for all time, but a civil law" for the Israelites at that time, he pointed out. Today, Christians do no abide by those civil laws but they do abide by moral laws that the New Testament also backs up, he added.
And while Fugelsang may be terrified by some of Jesus' "fan clubs," Kimball noted that there are "poor examples of what it means to follow Jesus given not just by right-winged folks but by left-winged folks as well."
"Anger, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, slander is coming from some liberals just as much as some conservatives it seems lately," he said.
Fugelsang has remarked that he doesn't hate religion. But he expressed his dislike for hypocrisy and fundamentalism. The commentator has been a frequent guest host for several shows on Current TV. With his upcoming show, he will be officially joining the media network that was co-founded by Al Gore.
Kimball respects the comedian's free speech, but he said he wishes "we could move to more intelligent discussions based on actually taking the time to study the Bible."
"Hearing these arguments the comedian is making doesn't rattle my faith or make me angry. It makes me sad he doesn't know what the Bible really does say in full context and makes me sad that many people who hear these types of arguments will think they are true when they are pretty darn easy to show they aren't accurate," he commented.
"[W]e need to be prepared to respond and pro-actively teach others truth vs. poor usage of the Bible to prove a point someone is trying to make or to get a laugh from ... My hope is that Christians will be learning to gracefully and lovingly respond to criticisms like the ones being raised."