A new Netflix Christmas comedy special, The First Temptation of Christ, is sparking backlash over its portrayal of a gay Jesus and a weed-smoking Mary. After the film debuted on the streamer on Dec. 3, depicting Jesus returning home for his 30th birthday party with his flamboyant friend, more than 1.8 million people signed a petition to have it pulled from the streaming platform.
The 46-minute special, which does not claim to be historically accurate, also includes the lyrics "In the heat of the desert I saw the size of his huge power."
According to the petition, as first reported by Variety, the special is offensive to Christians, and Porta dos Fundos, the Brazilian YouTube comedy group behind it, shows religious discrimination and "derision and disrespect for the faith of the Catholic Church and especially for God." Signees are calling for the 46-minute special to be prohibited and pulled from the platform and for Porta dos Fundos to apologize.
"No one is obliged to believe in Jesus Christ, but we demand respect for our beliefs," one person who signed the petition wrote, adding that they have since canceled their Netflix subscription. "Whoever disrespects my God does not deserve my money."
Meanwhile, Marco Feliciano, a conservative evangelical pastor who is president of the Brazilian Legislature's Commission on Human Rights and Minorities, has also spoken out against the special.
"Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta dos Fundo," he tweeted. "It's time we took a collective action — churches and all good people — to put an end to this."
Henrique Soares da Costa, bishop of Palmares, is also urging Christians to cancel their Netflix subscriptions.
Responding to the backlash and the petition, which has not yet reached its goal of 3 million signatures, Porta de Fundo said in a tweet that it "values artistic freedom and humor through satire on the most diverse cultural themes of our society and believes that freedom of expression is an essential construction for a democratic country."0comments
Netflix has not yet responded to the backlash, though Porta dos Fundos co-founder Fábio Porchat suggested that Netflix has no intention of removing the special.
"It doesn't incite violence, we're not saying people shouldn't believe in God," Porchat said in a statement to Variety. "They [Netflix] haven't said anything to us like, 'Maybe we should stop making the special available.' They support freedom of speech."