‘Tis the season for controversy. “The First Temptation of Christ” — a Netflix Christmas comedy special that portrays a gay Jesus and a weed-spoking Mary — has sparked backlash. A petition has circulated demanding the special be pulled from the streamer on the grounds that it is offensive to Christians.
“The First Temptation of Christ” was created by Brazilian YouTube comedy group Porta dos Fundos. The 46-minute satirical special tracks Jesus coming home to his surprise birthday party with Orlando, his openly flamboyant friend. Despite Jesus’ attempts to conceal his friend, Orlando joins the party later and sings a quirky holiday bop that includes the lyrics: “In the heat of the desert I saw the size of his huge power.”
More than 1.8 million people have signed the petition that calls for the special to be prohibited and pulled from Netflix, and for Porta dos Fundos to apologize. Viewers have accused Porta dos Fundos of showing religious discrimination and “derision and disrespect for the faith of the Catholic Church and especially for God.”
Brazilian pastor and congressman Marco Feliciano tweeted his disdain for the special.
Cristãos e não cristãos me cobram atuação contra os irresponsáveis do Porta dos Fundos. Em anos anteriores já os processei, mas a “Justiça” diz q é liberdade de expressão. Está na hora de uma ação conjunta das igrejas e pessoas de bem para dar um basta nisso. Unidos somos fortes! pic.twitter.com/FMuXolEQR1
— 👊🇧🇷 Marco Feliciano (@marcofeliciano) December 6, 2019
“Christians and non-Christians have asked me to take action against the irresponsible members of Porta dos Fundo. It’s time we took a collective action — churches and all good people — to put an end to this,” the tweet reads in English.
The petition had yet to reach its goal of 3 million signatures as of press time.
One signatory — who claimed to cancel their Netflix subscription entirely in protest — wrote, “No one is obliged to believe in Jesus Christ, but we demand respect for our beliefs. Whoever disrespects my God does not deserve my money.”
Henrique Soares da Costa, bishop of Palmares, is calling for Christians to cancel their Netflix subscriptions.
Porta dos Fundos, which has more than 16 million YouTube subscribers, hasn’t been fazed by the criticism. Instead, they tweeted out a second petition calling the special “tragic” and “sad.”
Enquanto tá rolando abaixo assinado contra, a gente comemora o sucesso de mais uma criação de Deus: nosso Especial de Natal @NetflixBrasil "A Primeira Tentação de Cristo" continua cada vez mais poderosíssimo. Mas querendo assinar, segue o link: https://t.co/pU0tk1J59z pic.twitter.com/sVYRtyru5w
— Porta dos Fundos (@portadosfundos) December 9, 2019
“Porta dos Fundos values artistic freedom and humor through satire on the most diverse cultural themes of our society and believes that freedom of expression is an essential construction for a democratic country,” the group, which has produced religious satires for years, said in a statement obtained by Variety.
The group’s last Christmas special, “The Last Hangover,” won the International Emmy Award for best comedy.
“The First Temptation of Christ” is still available to stream on Netflix.
Netflix didn’t immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.