A Christian group in the UK attacked a play featuring Jesus Christ as a transgender woman, calling it “deeply distressing and offensive”.
The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, a one-woman show by Edinburgh-based transgender playwright Jo Clifford, presents Jesus as a transgender woman today. Critics praised the theater production for reinventing a more tolerant world through its portrayal of Christianity’s message of love.
A pride-themed virtual event hosted by the Education Institute of Scotland (EIS), a leading teachers’ union, is expected to host a variety of LGBTQ artists. The line-up includes Clifford, who will perform two clips from The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven.
The Christian Institute, a non-denominational Christian charity that advocates “for the advancement and promotion of the Christian religion in the UK”, issued a statement denouncing the EIS for featuring Clifford in its event.
“This play deliberately re-imagines Jesus as a trans woman and puts words in his mouth that he never said, distorting him,” said John Denning, head of education at the Christian Institute. “It is deeply distressing and offensive to many Christians who value him and his teaching above all else.”
âIt is difficult to see how a teachers’ union justifies using the dues paid by its members, many of whom are themselves Christians, to promote this play.
In its statement, the Christian Institute also referred to Clifford – a trans woman – as “a man who identifies as a woman”.
News week contacted Clifford for comment.
Although it has garnered positive reviews, The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of Heaven has long aroused the anger of Christian groups. The vitriol led to protests outside theaters and, according to Clifford, to a wave of transphobic abuse and death threats. Glasgow Archbishop Philip Tartaglia reacted to the play by saying it was “hard to imagine a greater affront to the Christian faith”.
Performances of the play in Brazil, starring trans actress Renata Carvalho, were met with packed houses and backlash from Christian groups across the country.
Natalia Mallo, director and translator for the Brazilian production, said the performances were met with protests, death threats against the cast and crew, and her car’s tires were punctured. . Carvahlo said The Guardian that after the last minute cancellation of a venue, the play was staged in a “semi-abandoned space where we played torchlight”.
In 2017, a local judge granted an emergency injunction to block the performance of the play in the state of SÃ£o Paulo. The SÃ£o Paulo Court of Justice subsequently declared the injunction unconstitutional.
In 2018, then-MP Jair Bolsonaro, now President of Brazil, called the coin by name when he tweeted: “Who is interested in portraying the image of Christ as a transsexual? Is it freedom of speech? Is it art? And culture? Our repudiation and our protest. May God save Brazil . “
According to data compiled by the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals (ANTRA), a Brazilian activist organization, 175 trans women were murdered in the country in 2020, representing a 41% increase in murders from the year previous.