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Swedes incur US anger over 'slacker' Jesus show

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16:31 CEST+02:00
Comedy Central, the US television channel which broadcasts South Park, has shown that it is not afraid of courting further controversy after buying in a Swedish idea for a show about Jesus living a regular life in New York, angering US Christian groups.

“After we reveal the vile and offensive nature of Comedy Central's previous characterizations of Jesus Christ and God the Father, we expect these advertisers to agree wholeheartedly to end their advertising on Comedy Central and discontinue their support for unabashed, anti-Christian discrimination,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, according to entertainment website flavorwire.com.

Swedish creators Jonathan Sjöberg and Andreas Öhman, are the men behind "JC" which is an animated series about the Christian prophet escaping the shadow of his domineering father and living the life of a regular mortal in New York City.

The series is reported to be a religious and social satire but US Christian religious groups have failed to appreciate the joke.

"It's not certain what is more despicable: the nonstop Christian bashing featured on the network, or Comedy Central's decision to censor all depictions of Muhammad," said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, according to entertainment blog TV Squad, referring to a decision to censor a South Park episode in April in the face of death threats.

The heated reactions have come as something of a surprise to the producers of the show as nothing has yet been broadcast and the pilot show is not due for completion before the end of the summer.

"We are not poking fun at Christianity at all. It is more of a heart-warming story about Jesus and his complex relationship to his father," executive producer Henrik Bastin said, according to the Aftonbladet daily.

Bozell, one of a number of conservative media personalities who have united against the show which at best has months from being aired, argues that the plans illustrate entrenched hypocrisy at Comedy Central.

“Why should they be supporting a business that makes a habit of attacking Christianity and yet has a formal policy to censor anything considered offensive to followers of Islam? This double standard is pure bigotry, one from which advertisers should quickly shy away," he said.

With 5,500 emails from religious groups reported to have found their way to Comedy Central telling the show's creators that they deserve eternal damnation, Jonathan Sjöberg has admitted to feeling some concern for his safety.

"I don't know what the Christian right is capable of. Our names stood in one of the articles so, yes, I became a little scared," he told Aftonbladet.

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