The Archbishop of Glasgow has denounced a publicly funded play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual, saying it is a “provocative and offensive abuse” of Christian beliefs. He suggested the event is part of an agenda to “mock Christianity.”
The play “Queen of Heaven” is being staged in the Tron Theatre as part of the publicly funded “Glasgay!” arts festival, which describes itself as “Scotland’s Annual celebration of queer culture,” the BBC reports.
Some 300 people held a candlelight protest of the play outside the theatre.
Festival producer Steven Thomson described the play as a “literary work of fiction exploring the artist’s own personal journey of faith as a transgendered person.”
"This work is not intended to incite or offend anyone of any belief system,” claimed festival producer Steven Thomson. “However, we respect your right to disagree with that opinion."
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow was critical of the production, saying in a statement:
"It is difficult to imagine a more provocative and offensive abuse of Christian beliefs than this play. That it should be supported by public funds is nothing short of disgraceful. Coming hot on the heels of the scandalous exhibition earlier this year which encouraged the defacing of the bible, this latest initiative can only be read as part of an agenda to mock Christianity.”
He said that the event's financial backers, the Glasgow City Council and Culture and Sport Glasgow, have “serious questions” to answer concerning why such projects are funded at a time of budget cuts.
"Far from combating prejudice, productions like this reinforce stereotypes. Organizers should realize that you do not promote tolerance of the minority by offending and insulting the majority."
The 300 protesters gathered outside the theatre waved placards which bore phrases like “Jesus, King of Kings, not Queen of Heaven.”
Jo Clifford, the 59-year-old formerly known as John Clifford who authored and stars in the one-man play, told the London Times most of the protest is happening because of “a complete misunderstanding of what I am and what I am trying to do.
“They thought awful, sacrilegious things were going to happen on stage,” he added, claiming that he has shown the script to priests who say it “corresponds to what the Bible says.”
He charged that protesters disapprove of his “transgendered identity.”
Clifford, the father of two children, began living as a woman five years ago after the death of his partner, feminist writer Sue Innes.
The play’s 300 protesters included Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow.
"We didn't threaten anyone going into the play or any of the cast members,” he told BBC News.
"It was a peaceful protest with hymns and placards.
"You can't blaspheme God and use freedom of speech as an excuse for that."
"True biblical Christianity is becoming marginalized through political correctness,” he charged, wondering how a play that had treated Mohammed the same way would be received.