Monday, March 29, 2010

Play Depicting Gay Jesus Cancelled Due to Threats of Violence

Throughout the history of Christianity, church leaders have felt the need to resort to threats of violence in order to preserve their religion, often times following through with bloodbaths of biblical proportions. (Does anyone remember the Crusades and the Inquisition?) You'd think that after 2,010 years they'd understand Jesus' basic message of peace and love and that he was, more than anything else, a pacifist.

This story comes to us from the Great State of Texas, the reddest of the red(neck) states, where everything is bigger, including their bigotry. They've even managed to out hate the haters in Virginia and that's quite and accomplishment.

Cast members of the controversial play Corpus Christi -- which portrays a gay Jesus character -- said Saturday that they generally agree with the decision to cancel the class performance at Tarleton State University after the school received a barrage of threatening calls and e-mails.

"I'm disappointed. I'm mad," cast member Chance Underwood said. "But I also understand the safety issues. I can't believe that people that I saw in the community as neighbors, friends, leaders of things, would go so far as to put threats on students and cast members. It's just ridiculous to me. I do feel it was the right decision. In no way would we have wanted anyone to get hurt."

Corpus Christi was scheduled to be performed in Stephenville early Saturday, one of four plays that were part of a directing class at Tarleton State. Student John Jordan Otte's project had generated intensifying opposition in the last several weeks.

Though the university administration said it would not bar the production, citing academic freedom, drama professor Mark Holtorf canceled all four productions late Friday. He cited "safety and security concerns for the students, as well as the need to maintain an orderly academic environment."

"We received so many threatening calls and e-mails today across campus, the numbers were just staggering," Holtorf said Friday night. "One administrator received in excess of 800 e-mails.

"Our department received calls of a threatening nature," he said. "I could not guarantee the security of my students. The administration was truly behind the academic exercise, but I could not justify the risk."

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