French evangelical Christian and Catholic groups denounced a controversial and provocative satirical play about the life and death of Jesus called "Golgotha Picnic,” set to premiere in the southern city of Toulouse, before spreading to Paris.
The profanity-riddled play features actors in multiple scenes of full frontal nudity, with a giant screen displaying their genitals in detail, Christ is compared to a terrorist, and the crucifixion is presented as a burlesque, complete with half-naked women with faux-stigmata, and motorcycle helmets painted with a crown of thorns.
Christians publicly protested outside the Garonne Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 15, while leftist sympathizers held a counter-demonstration for freedom of speech.
The Argentinean author Rodrigo Garcia said the play is a depiction of the life of Christ through the lens of modern consumerism, with Big Macs littering the stage to represent Jesus miraculously feeding the multitude of 5,000 with loaves and fishes, and is intended to shock.
Garcia said he applauded the protestors for making a stance for their beliefs.
"I find it healthy to see people take a stand and say they don't like it, even if what I show is only a reflection of what is in front of our eyes every day but nobody chooses to see," said Garcia to French newspaper, La Depeche.
However, the Catholic Church in Toulouse took it more seriously.
"Mr. Rodrigo Garcia wants to denounce forcefully all forms of fundamentalism and rebel against an all-powerful God he has feared since childhood--that is not the God Christians proclaim,” said Archbishop Monsignor Robert Le Gall on the Toulouse diocesan website. "Is it right to foul the faith of many believers, to attack them in their devotion to Christ? I do not think so."
Many alarmed evangelicals and Catholics on the internet agree, and point to the fact that the play is government-funded by the French Culture Ministry and prestigious art associations such as the Foundation Pierre Bergé and the Baron Philippe de Rotschild Society, among others.
“Should a secular government help promote blasphemous, pornographic and anti-God events?” said one Catholic blogger named Nanette.
“It is crucial that Christians from all over the world protest this unspeakable blasphemy,” the blogger added. "As Catholics/Christians, we have the serious obligation to protest and pray in reparation for this atrocious insult to the sacred honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Catholic groups in Toulouse petitioned the regional authorities to ban the play, but were denied.