(New York, NY) At 11:00 EST last night, Jesus H. Christ interrupted regularly scheduled programs on every TV channel across the Western Hemisphere with a stunning simulcast announcement. Effective immediately, Jesus stated, “I resign My post as Lord and Savior at every evangelical church or Christian organization that sponsors antigay legislation or seeks to deny civil or human rights to LGBT communities.”
Attired in a tasteful three-piece suit discretely covering his stigmata, Jesus spake in sonorous, well-modulated tones as He listed each of the 38 African countries with draconic antigay legislation, including Uganda, whose recently signed “kill the gays” bill warrants life in prison if not the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” Jesus also described Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, which, besides imprisoning people for “homosexual acts,” may soon lead to government seizure of children from their LGBT parents.
What is striking about these international “pro-family,” antigay campaigns, Jesus continued — miraculously preempting commercial after commercial — is the fact that almost all have been influenced, guided, and funded by predominantly white, rightwing Christian groups based in the United States.
“Woe unto you hypocrites, you purveyors of hate,” thundered Jesus, citing in particular Scott Lively of the newly formed Coalition for Family Values and Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families. “For ye hast founded thy leprous movement upon the immoral, yea illegal use of My image.”
His luminous eyes seeming to follow millions of TV viewers around their living rooms, Jesus concluded: “I hereby revoke from said movement, all intellectual property rights to Christian logos, including but not limited to Jesus throw pillows, Last-Supper lunchboxes, fatuous musicals, glow-in-the-dark statuettes of Me, and, retroactively, all usage of the Jesus trademark to justify slavery and/or colonialism. Further, I rebuke and cast into the sea every one of those God-Hates-Fags pamphlets and t-shirts made by the Westboro Baptist Church. PS, Fred Phelps, you can kiss my rapturous ass. I’m not coming back for you, EVER.”
So saying, Jesus wafted somewhere off camera.
Such an astounding “Divine Intervention” might be expected to change the course of Western religion. Strangely, however, no one seems to care, and leaders of Jesus’ evangelical target groups are unperturbed.
“OK by me; we just get another martyr,” said Scott Lively when reached by telephone. “Maybe this time a broad, or some kid who’s been to heaven. Actually, this is a relief. I always found it hard to engender homophobia by asking people to open their hearts to a guy in a robe and loincloth, who hung out with twelve other similarly attired guys talking about love. I mean, how queer is that?”
Another evangelical pastor who preferred to remain anonymous also expressed relief. “Maybe this time we can find some figurehead who isn’t Jewish,” he said. “It’d sure make it easier to tell those backroom holocaust jokes.”
But this reporter — ever in search of the proper journalistic balance — decided to get Jesus’ side of the story.
I caught up with the unemployed Messiah at the Washington Square Diner on West 4th Street. This time, He appeared in jeans and sandals, his long hair covering his eyes like so many dudes of the West Village. Jesus sat down and ordered a chocolate egg cream.
“Sorry I’m late,” He said. “I stayed for a group hug after my Codependents Anonymous meeting. You see, Susie, I’ve only just become aware of my problem. I have this centuries-old addiction to dying for other people’s sins.”
This reporter, though aghast, managed to ask objectively: “How does that make you feel?”
“I’m struggling with guilt, Susie. But, I’m in recovery. As people in my twelve-step group remind me, I’m attracted to narcissists. It was Superman who made me see that.”
“Superman is codependent?” gasped this reporter.
“Yeah, big time — uh-oh. You’re not going to repeat that?”
This reporter assured Jesus that she was a professional. “I’ve heard rumors that you were on Scott Lively’s payroll. That you waited to resign until your Christmas bonus check cleared. True?”
“Lies, Susie, all lies,” sighed Jesus. “Although I will say they never let me observe casual Fridays.”
“For years,” Jesus explained, “I forgave Christian leaders as they shored up their power in the U.S. by blaming queers for the world’s ills. I forgave them as they took their campaigns to countries like Uganda and Russia. Maybe because I, as a lower-middle-class, many-gendered person of color, was vulnerable to being manipulated by a bunch of straight white guys.”
“Do you ever get jokes about being born in a barn?” asked this reporter, eager to trump Jesus’ Identity card. But He seemed not to hear.
“Then Scott Lively wrote a book called The Pink Swastika, about how gays inspired the worst Nazi atrocities. I hit rock bottom. I felt dirty, so used. One day in the marketplace, I ran into Krishna. He suggested I come to a meeting and surrender to some so-called higher power.”
“That saved you?”
“Ha, good one, Susie. Yes, it did,” said Jesus, swiping a couple of sugar packets. “I had the chance to hang out among other heroes and avatars with the same problem. I learned that we can’t fix people.”
This reporter started to cry. “You can’t?”
“You especially can’t fix people who aren’t broken, like queers. But you can stand up and say No.”
“No to who?”
“No to whom, Susie. You can say No to anyone who uses any religious icon to perpetuate fear and hatred.”
“What are your plans now, Jesus?” I gulped through my tears.
Jesus stood up and put on his Mets cap. “Me, I’m going to clean out the garage, sit with my pain, maybe write that novel. . .”
And He was gone. Leaving this reporter and her readers to face yet another deadline — and so many more demagogues. One day at a time.
Susie Day is a writer.