Opponents of the California same-sex marriage ban have released a Web video satire entitled "Prop 8: The Musical" that mocks Christians as hatemongers and Jesus as a Bible critic.
The three-minute video was posted last Wednesday on FunnyOrDie.com, a website founded by comedian Will Ferrell, and is gaining viral video status with over 2.4 million views.
A star-studded cast, which includes Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, John C. Reilly, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Margaret Cho, Rashida Jones and others, is featured in the low-budget musical parody conceived by the composer of "Hairspray," Marc Shaiman, who is openly gay.
The video opens with a colorfully dressed bunch, which includes a hippie Rudolph and a tattooed Cho, singing and celebrating a "new Obama day" and "happy days for the gays" against a beach backdrop.
Then enters a black-clad Reilly and another actress with a scheme to "spread some hate and put it in the Constitution." They crash the beach party and unscroll a bill reading: "Prop. 8."
A group dressed in black Sunday clothes, apparently portraying Christians, joins Reilly in chorus to plead with the audience to listen to their warning that the other group will "teach kids about sodomy."
The colorful group calls the warning a "lie," to which the Prop. 8-supporting Christians respond: "But it works." The two groups continue to argue, with the first group claiming their "love is not a sin," while the Christian group remarks that "the Bible says it so."
Jesus, played by Black, intervenes in the debate by saying, "The Bible says a lot of things, you know?" The Christian group asks whether the Bible considers gays "an abomination."
But Jesus dismisses the Bible reference, saying that "Leviticus also says shellfish is an abomination" and that the "Bible says a lot of interesting things like you can stone your wife or sell your daughter into slavery."
When the Christians say they "ignore those verses," Jesus scolds them for picking and choosing. Jesus reminds them that the nation was built on the separation of church and state before his good-bye parting, "See ya later sinners!"
Harris has better luck convincing the Christians to oppose Proposition 8 by telling them that "gay marriages will save the economy." According to Harris, "there's money to be made" from the gay weddings to lawyers for gay divorces. After he points at the "millions lost in all your disapproving," the Christians admit they have been "such fools."
While some internet bloggers have found the video to be "funny" and "hilarious," many Christians aren't laughing at the Hollywood parody.
"It is more of the anti-religious bigotry for which this industry, supposedly so devoted to 'tolerance,' has become famous," L. Brent Bozell III, founder of Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog group, said in a recent opinion piece.
Bozel took issue with Shaiman's portrayal of a "phony-baloney Jesus" who seems to be quoting from an Obama speech in 2006 that suggested Christian conservatives weren't reading their Leviticus, he said.
"But neither Obama nor Shaiman will admit in the Bible there is also St. Peter's vision in the Acts of the Apostles, where he's told to abandon the idea of clean and unclean foods," said Bozel. "Only someone utterly ignorant would make a video where Jesus descends in a vision to humanity only to sound like a lawyer for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)."
Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, which responds to antagonism against Christians, is demanding an apology for the offensive portrayal Jesus.
"Appearing as a sarcastic, rotund Christ, Black distorts the Bible and condones shameful, homosexual acts. Associating Christ with perverse activity is an affront to all people of faith, especially Christians," commented Cass.
"Apparently Black and company find it hilarious to falsely accuse Christians while they intentionally distort the Bible. Black ought to apologize."
He also added, "Jack Black should remember from his days at Hebrew School that homosexual acts aren't funny and are roundly condemned in the Bible."
Amid the appalled remarks, one Christian blogger John Smulo is saying the video does make a point.
"The video reflects popular culture's perception that Christians were behind Prop 8 passing," writes Smulo on his blog site johnsmulo.com. "When Christians put their voices and finances behind things like Prop 8 it communicates that the heart of Christianity is about something else. In this case legislating morality, and specifically, who can get married and who can't."
A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that the measure received its strongest support from evangelical Christians, with 85 percent voting for Proposition 8. The campaign that supported Proposition 8 had credited grassroots efforts and networking with churches as a key to their success.
Supporters of the amendment raised over $35 million toward the measure's passage, with the Mormon church pouring in around $20 million.
Scott Eckern, artistic director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento, was blacklisted by the gay community in Hollywood after his $1,000 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign was disclosed. Protests against his donation, including Shaiman's pledge to never allow anything he wrote to play there, pressed Eckern to resign in November.
Los Angeles Film Festival Director Richard Raddon, also a Mormon, was also pressed to resign after his $1,500 donation to the Yes on 8 campaign was disclosed.
Bozel said the opponents to Proposition 8 were running a double standard.
"Hollywood loves to pose as the trendy defender of civil liberties, but clearly no one who wants to remain employed would ever dare to make a musical mockery of Shaiman and his blacklisting coalitions," he said.
Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, was approved in November by 52 percent of California voters. The measure's passage overturned the May decision by the California Supreme Court, which ruled 4-3 to allow gay marriages. State justices have agreed to hear challenges to Proposition 8 in Spring 2009.