First, there was “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which depicted the life of Jesus and his struggle with various forms of temptation, including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.
Now comes “The First Temptation of Christ,” which portrays Jesus as gay and Mary as a pot-smoker.
Just in time for Christmas, Netflix is streaming the 46-minute Brazilian comedy special.
“Jesus, who’s hitting the big 3-0, brings a surprise guest to meet the family. A Christmas special so wrong, it must be from the comedians Porta dos Fundos,” Netflix says in a brief description.
“The Netflix film tells the story of Jesus returning home from the desert for his 30th birthday, in a highly satirical format. Mary and God are portrayed as illicit lovers, Joseph is a bumbling carpenter who can’t build a table, and the Three Kings try to pass off ham as ‘free-range soy,’ ” The Washington Post reports.
And Jesus, the movie suggests, seems to have done more than wandering around the desert for 40 days. Arriving in Nazareth, he brings along a flamboyant companion, Orlando, who implies at nearly every turn that he and the son of God are romantically involved, at one point calling him a “naughty Capricorn.”
As Orlando, the walking stereotype of an effeminate gay man, begins to describe how the pair met – “I was bathing in an oasis, and I was naked” – Jesus abruptly cuts him off to prevent more from being revealed.
“And then I asked for directions,” Jesus says. “I asked, and he gave it to me.”
“You bet I did,” Orlando responds, nail file in hand. “I sure gave it to him.”
At other points in the special, Mary smokes marijuana, Melchior, the oldest member of the Magi, hires a sex worker, and Jesus gets high off “special tea.” Hallucinating himself — he meets with Buddha, Krishna, the Rastafari god Jah and an alien deity for Scientologists, the Post writes.
The backlash has been swift — and severe.
More than 500,000 people have signed a petition titled, “Ask Netflix to cancel film depicting Jesus as a homosexual!”
“Using humor and art as an excuse, this group has attacked Christianity in an unprecedented manner. They supposedly produced this film as a ‘Christmas’ film for their viewers!” the petition says. “It is an absolutely unacceptable provocation. No one has the right to attack the faith of millions of people around the world. These type of supposed ‘shows’ only cause one thing: numbing the population to attacks against Christians.”
Another petition on change.org has collected nearly two million signatures. Signees are “in favor of the removal of the film from the NETFLIX catalog and for the ‘Porta dos Fundos’ to be held responsible for the crime of villainous faith. We also want public retraction, as they have seriously offended Christians.”
The National Conference of Bishops in Brazil released a statement last week condemning the special, saying “Nothing allows anyone the right to vilify people’s deeply held beliefs. The right to freedom of expression does not nullify respect for people and their values.”
The Gospel Coalition, an international collective of evangelical pastors, has also begun a campaign in Brazil calling for a boycott of Netflix, The Post writes.
“To remain a sponsor of film productions that mock and vilify the Lord is the same as slapping him, spitting on him, beating his head to bury his crown in thorns,” wrote the Rev. Joel Theodoro, a pastor at the Bairro Imperial Presbyterian Church in Rio de Janeiro.