A graphic "Saturday Night Live" skit from this past weekend portrays a post-resurrection Jesus Christ as a vengeful killer.
The comedy sketch, which aired just four days into Lent, is a mock trailer of a film that its narrator describes as "the ultimate historical revenge fantasy." The fake film, titled "Djesus Uncrossed," is presented in the style of popular Quentin Tarantino films such as "Inglorious Basterds" and "Django Unchained."
"He's risen from the dead, and he's preaching anything but forgiveness," the narrator of the skit says while the Christ, played by show host Christoph Waltz, is shown slaughtering Roman soldiers with a sword. "He may be wearing sandals, but he can still kick a--," the narrator says.
Just before SNL's gun-wielding Jesus shoots Judas Iscariot in the chest, he tells his betrayer, "When you get to heaven, say hi to my dad."
Social media reactions to the comedy sketch have been mixed. Some Twitter users are infuriated by it, while others are clamoring for it to be turned into a full-length film.
Todd Starnes, the host of "Fox News and Commentary" on Fox News Radio, asked in a recent blog post if NBC, the network that airs SNL, hates Christians.
"I find it interesting that the networks always mock and ridicule Christianity – but they give other religions a pass," wrote Starnes. "Why aren't the writers at SNL churning out weekly skits about Islam – or the Prophet Mohammed?"
Mark Joseph, a film producer who has worked in the development or marketing of films such as "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Ray" and "Amazing Grace," told The Christian Post via an emailed statement that the Christian community needs to push back if it wants to prevent similar sketches from being produced.
"If Harvey Milk or Martin Luther King Jr. had been depicted like this, [SNL executive producer] Lorne Michaels and Christoph Waltz would be undergoing sensitivity training this week," said Joseph. "The Christian community has nobody to blame but itself since there is no price to pay for doing things like this. In our culture artists will push until they get pushback. Why should they stop when there is never any serious pushback from a respected leader or group in the faith community?"
Not everybody, even in the Christian community, is offended by the skit, however. Blogger David Henderson, who is a postulant for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, says the satire revealed what American Christians have been trying to make Jesus Christ out to be for years.
"We have tried to arm him with our military-industrial complex, drape him with our xenophobia, outfit him with our weapons, and adorn him with our nationalism," wrote Henderson. "We've turned the cross into a flagpole for the Stars and Stripes. We have no need for Tarantino to reimagine the story of Jesus into a fantasy of violent revenge. We've done it for him."
Catholic blogger Frank Weathers says the skit is more of an indictment against popular culture than it is against Jesus Christ. The skit shows how absurd it would be for the Messiah to die and rise again only to go on a killing spree, he wrote, even though many first century Israelites were hoping their savior would deliver them from Roman rule.
"SNL may not realize it, but their skit points to the reason why the first century Israelites didn't get their temporal deliverer," wrote Weathers. "And they ingeniously point out why we don't either. The world will not be redeemed through killing, though it is redeemed through the death of the Christ."