(RNS) The line between satire and stupidity is notoriously thin.
Last week, “Saturday Night Live” ran a skit called “DJesus Uncrossed,” a spoof on Quentin Tarantino’s revenge flick “Django Unchained.”
“Jesus emerges from his tomb and has the Romans on his radar,” runs the spoof’s tagline. A mock quote from a movie critic calls it “a less violent `Passion of the Christ.’”
Some Christians were pretty upset over the skit and implied that they are singled out for satire, while other religions get a free pass.
“Over the weekend, Muslims in Egypt set fire to a Christian church—the second in a month,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. “The church’s cross was torn down and Christians were stoned by these barbarians. Imagine how much fun SNL could have with that? But they don’t have the guts to go there.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also criticized SNL.
“Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.
“While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line.”
Awad added that many Americans may not realize that Muslims consider Jesus to have been a great prophet and add the honorific “peace be upon him” when mentioning his name.
David R. Henson, a progressive Christian, praised SNL for unmasking the stars-and-stripes, revenge-driven, macho-man strain of conservative Christianity.
The skit “pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is,” Henson writes on his Patheos blog. “We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some a** and take some names.”
First-century Jews wanted a messiah who could smash some Roman heads. Jesus of Nazareth didn’t really fit the bill, so the Book of Revelation re-imagines Jesus as a warrior who returns to earth clothed in a bloody vesture and bearing a mouth-sword to slay the wicked.
“Of course, this isn’t the image of Jesus that has imprinted itself on the minds of most of his followers,” Silk says. “But up to and including the sword, the blood-dipped vesture, and the white horse, SNL’s enactment is canonical as hell.”
UPDATE: The American Family Association says JCPenney and Sears have pulled ads from SNL as a result of the skit.