Free Presbyterian cleric joins condemnation of transgender Jesus play
If a play depicting Jesus Christ as a man who had changed gender to a woman had targeted the prophet Mohammed, there would be riots on the streets, a Free Presbyterian minister has claimed.
The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven is set to be shown on Sunday at the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast.
The Rev David McLaughlin of Carryduff has joined with Anglican and Baptist clerics to oppose the showing of the play, and blasted the content as blasphemous.
The story - which involves Jesus returning to the world as a transgender person - has sparked fury in the past, with hundreds turning up to protest against it in Glasgow.
It was written by Jo Clifford, who describes herself as a practising Christian and also a transgender woman.
She claims to have recreated Biblical stories with a "different slant".
The play imagines a transgender Jesus coming back to the world today and taking part in a communion, even sharing bread and wine with the audience.
Ms Clifford will not be performing the play in Belfast. Instead, a recording of a previous performance will be shown and a live question and answer discussion with Ms Clifford will take place afterward.
Clerics from a number of different churches across Belfast have urged that the performance be cancelled, but the Queer Arts Festival has defended its plans to screen the play and said it will not be cancelled.
Rev McLaughlin said he was horrified to hear about the content of the screening.
"Any play, whether it is in Belfast or Bombay, that depicts the Lord Jesus Christ as a transgender woman, is blasphemous according to the Scriptures," he said.
"We are coming up to the festive season, Christendom across the English speaking world and beyond, will be celebrating the virgin birth of Christ.
"As Christians we believe Jesus is the only begotten son of God, and to depict him as a woman, and then to add insult, a transgender woman, I feel is a step too far.
"For the arts to depict the Lord Jesus in this way is blasphemy and a violation of the third commandment, Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord in vain, and also in violation of the first and second commandments as well."
He went on to say that if the play had targeted the prophet Mohammed, Muslims would be just as outraged, and violence would ensue.
"If it was something to do with Islam and some depiction of Mohammed, the Muslim world would be up in arms and, in fact, some might even be wanting to burn the place down," he said.
"There would be riots in the streets of Belfast and in other parts of the UK.
"But it seems to be when it comes to the Christian religion and the tenets of the Christian faith - and that is one of the tenets that is fundamental to the Christian faith, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and is the only begotten son of God.
"I think anything, whether it is a book or play, that depicts anything otherwise is the height of blasphemy and totally wrong. It shouldn't be done."