Jesus Cartoons Offend, Stir Controversy on Virginia Campus

In the wake of violent protests throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa over cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, a comic strip depicting Jesus as a modern human displaying angry to sexual emotions has stirred controversy on a Virginia campus.

The comic strip, “Christ on Campus,” by sophomore Christian Keesee of Radford University satirizes Jesus and Christians by illustrating Jesus being stabbed by Santa Claus, playing poker with other religious figures (including Muhammad), and punching someone who referred to him as a “glorified Easter bunny.” The cartoons also portray Jesus in a sexual encounter where Jesus is in bed with a woman wondering if he has a condom and if he has the appropriate male body part.

The 12 cartoons were published starting in October on Radford’s Whim Internet Magazine. The creator said he was unaware of the Muhammad cartoons when he started the comic strip.

The cartoons have offended Christians as well as non-Christians for what some call “disgusting and incorrect” depictions of Jesus. Blake Fought, formerly a Whim staff and currently the sports editor of Radford’s The Tartan newspaper, is arguably the most vocal opponent of the cartoon.

Fought, a member of the First Baptist Church in Blacksburg, launched a Facebook group – a popular student networking site for critics of the cartoons – two months after its first appearance in the magazine. The Facebook group currently has 52 members.

“I found in general that it was disgusting that they put out an incorrect message of Jesus Christ,” Fought told The Christian Post on Tuesday. “It puts out the wrong image of Christ which is something that really concerns me.”

During a Philosophy and Religious Study Club forum on Religion and Media at Radford on Mar. 8, Fought described in a speech some of the cartoons he found offensive including the one published on Oct. 21 where a student asked the Lord why the horrible disaster fell on the city of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. In the cartoon, Jesus’ response was “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to, BOY! You have no idea the kind of hell I can rain down on you! Understand?!”

Fought said that he believes the writers and cartoonists have a right to print the material, but he still holds that “any media publication that mocks a religious figure should have such content stricken from its pages.”

The former Whim staff mentioned that some of the local church leaders are concerned and upset about the cartoons.

Pastor Joe Strazzire of the Fairlawn Church of God is among the pastors in the area that are concerned.

"I'm really, really troubled and disturbed by what I see," said Strazzire to The Roanoke Times in an article on Tuesday. "As a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and as a pastor in our community, I am appalled, I am shocked, I am offended and I am terribly let down that the leadership at Radford University would allow such filth, such heresy and such blasphemy concerning the Lord Jesus Christ."

“I really don’t think Christian is a bad person,” concluded Fought in his interview on Tuesday. “I think some people have gotten that impression. Christian, at least he said he is a Christian and I’ll take his word for it just like I want him to take my word saying I am a Christian. Being Christian, he is already saved but I think he needs to really take a look at what he is doing here because if there wasn’t something wrong with it, we wouldn’t be getting upset…

“It’s really concerning to me what is going on.”