Black Jesus: Blasphemy Or Just Jokes?

40 comments
August 9, 2014 ‐ By Toya Sharee
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Since leaving Riley and Huey in his past, “Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder has been called to a higher power in the form of his new Adult Swim sitcom “Black Jesus”. Writer, Charing Ball recently wrote about her excitement to see the show and all of the controversy surrounding McGruder’s satire in her piece, This Is Why I’m Excited About Black Jesus.

The showed premiered this past Thursday and the reviews are in. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show topped all original cable offerings that night attracting just over 2 million viewers of adults age 18-49 at 11 pm.

The first episode, “Smokin’, Drinkin’ Chillin’” featured Jesus chilling with his homies in contemporary Compton engaging in typical “hood” activities. By the end of the episode the group starts a community garden full of fresh veggies and plenty of “herb”. Black Jesus also turns water into brandy and pays for things with “kindness, compassion and love for all mankind”—instead of money.

Of course the show has been met with plenty of criticism including those against the mocking of religious beliefs and the stereotypes that come with race and religion. Christian groups, including the American Family Association and the oft-offended subgroup One Million Moms, have pushed Adult Swim to pull the show.

But others like Philadelphia Pastor, Leslie D. Callahan, feel we have more important things to protest than cable shows, like the misogyny and sexism in Christianity itself.  In her TIME article, she writes:

“By now, you have already figured out that I’m not inclined to get too irate over the mere possibility of blasphemy. In this way, I am unlike a few of my friends and colleagues who are up in arms and calling for a boycott of the series and perhaps of the Cartoon network. Now this is not because I am incapable of indignation. I’m just saving my ire for other things, such as, the carnage in Gaza, food insecurity in my city and every city, and even the nonsense folks preach in pulpits depicting Jesus as a money-hungry capitalist, which by the way is at least as blasphemous as portraying him as a cussing, smoking, homeless dude in the hood.”

Anyone who has ever tuned into a night of Adult Swim is familiar with the fact that no race, religion or lifestyle is spared if shows like Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad are any indication.  A Twitter user comments:

“People boycotting #BlackJesus have obviously  never watched a night of #AdultSwim – If it ain’t rufflin’ some feathers, it ain’t playin!”

But is blatant comedy about racial stereotypes a way to get honest conversations started or is Black Jesus just the beginning of a new era in cooning and minstrel shows?

I tend to agree with Callahan, Black Jesus may not be the most inoffensive move in entertainment, but we’ve got a lot more to worry about in the world right now than Adult Swim’s take on Christianity.

Did you tune into Black Jesus?  Do you find it offensive?

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  • SMH

    Y’all don’t take your religion seriously in the first place and then want to get all fake mad when a show like this comes out. THEN on top of that watch way more sinful shows. Yeah okay hypocrites.

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  • septbeauty

    This is blasphemy for sure! My boyfriend had it on for one second and I was like, “Please turn from this” He responded, “It’s comedy babe”. But the Bible speaks clearly on blasphemy and how great a sin it is. I refuse to even watch that show for a second because I don’t want my immediate perception of the show to be tainted by funny jokes. No matter how funny it is or how much the makers may/may not mean any harm, it’s still blasphemy, period.

  • Dee

    I have yet to see the show but i KNOW FOR A FACT that if Muhammad or some other religious figure dear to Jewish people was in the place of “black jesus” it would have been a problem.

    • benbrung

      So, are you saying that Christians should pat themselves on the back for being so loving and tolerant or that they should strive to be more militantly disapproving like the outrage you imagine happening in the Muslim community over the fictitious show you also imagine?

      Congrats on kind of knowing who Muhammad was but is it really that hard to think of “some other religious figure dear to Jewish people.” I would think they would be more well-known since the Bible is lousy with them. Come to think of it, the Bible is the perfect place to keep them hidden in obscurity from most Christian eyes.

      • Dee

        I apologize, But I do not get the point you are trying to make. can you please clarify?

        • benbrung

          I don’t know what your point is in saying that a show about Muhammad or “some other religious figure dear to Jewish people . . . would have been a problem.” Are you celebrating the fact that Christian tolerance supports a satire based in Christianity to air on TV without causing a problem, or are you saying that the Christian community should be more like you imagine the Muslim or Jewish community to be by raising a bigger fuss?

          • Dee

            Oh, okay thanks for clarifying.

            I was saying the latter, that the Christian community should make a fuss just like any other religious community would. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a prude and like a religious joke here and there, but there is a line of respect that I feel is always crossed when it comes to christianity.

            Also, I remember a few years ago, South Park wanted to feature a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and so much of a fuss was made that, if I remember correctly, the episode was either not shown or Muhammad was pixelated

            • benbrung

              So that is the model you aspire to for Christians in the U.S.? You want defacto censorship based on death threats rather than freedom and turning the other cheek?

              Also, just out of curiosity, which jokes in Black Jesus did you find acceptable and which ones crossed the line of disrespect?

              • Dee

                I find the entire premise of the show offensive.

                • benbrung

                  So it’s the idea of a Black Jesus that you find offensive? Since The Book of Revelations describes Jesus as having bronze skin and hair like wool, are you similarly offended by depictions of Jesus as being Anglo?

  • lockstress

    Well when my Lord and Saviour RETURNS and HE WILL….you can explain to him how FUNNY the Blasphemous use of his name was.
    No other religious “person” is mocked and ridiculed.
    God was specific when he said do not BLASPHEME. That includes the son he sacrficed to save the world that he so loves but we just can’t seem to get right.He gave us the “free will” and some of us exercise that freedom to no end. Enjoy…but there will be a day when accountability will come in question.
    I for one…do not care to watch this. But that is my “free will”.

  • Issabella Flower

    It was so funny I watched twice. The religious references didn’t bother me since i’m an atheist. All that water into wine and Noah stuff is funny by itself. I don’t know how people believe that stuff.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I love that people pretend not to understand why the perversion of Christ, the central figure of a faith people dedicate their lives to, would be offensive to Christians. It’s precisely the irreverence and the controversy that the show is counting on to intrigue viewers.

    I think it’s cute that we can so flippantly dismiss the justifiable concerns of a group of people because we disagree with them. If I don’t assent to your God, I have license to distort his image for the sake of a laugh. Hope that’ll be good for the gander though when the issues of another group get passed over by Christians due to ideological differences. Let me know how that works out.

    • septbeauty

      Thank you Stacy

  • Mynx

    I thought the show was funny, but at the same time it felt like more people making fun of Christianity.

  • Chocolate_Spice

    Jay from roomie lover friends? ? Lol

  • Chelsea M

    I’m so mad I missed it. It looks hilarious.

  • Annalytical

    Would people of the Islamic faith consider it acceptable if this was a portrayal of the prophet Muhammad instead of Jesus? Absolutely not! Then why is this contemptible portrayal of Jesus and Christianity not condemned as vehemently. Is it because our condemnation is not followed up by the deaths of all that have offended us?

    • hollyw

      I think you’re comparing apples to oranges, since Jesus is only comparable to Muhammad in being a prophet. Islamic rules of portrayal, however are completely different from Christianity. Muslim reactions are so extreme b/c it is actually forbidden to portay Allah or his prophet Muhammad AT ALL. It is the opposite in Christianity, wherein Jesus and God are not only encouraged to be depicted EVERYWHERE, but in many newer Protestant denominations, are taught to be seen casually, like as friends (“Jesus is our friend”) or family (Father and Son). It just opens up a whole other relationship with the mainstream.

      • SJKE29

        I believe Isaiah 42:8 describes God’s disdain for images depicted of him. Yet, people choose to paint the last supper with Jesus being black, white, etc. Having all these different images distracts from the word and causes arguments over his racial makeup.

        • hollyw

          I just read through Isaiah 42, and it specifies idol worship in particular. Exodus goes in further detail, stating that God forbids images of “heaven, or Earth below”, to be bowed down to or worship. This is idolatry. The Bible does not forbid images in gen’l, just the worship of them. This is completely different from the Islamic faith’s explicitedly forbidding any images. So whole I respect your opinion about what they promote, paintings of The Last Supper are not a sin.

    • SJKE29

      Jesus is always the target of jokes. It’s not fair. I want everyone else’s god or deity to be a joke too. Let me see vishnu juggling balls on a stage. Or all the rest of them too sacred?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Muslims will kill over the perversion of Allah’s image.

  • Curls&Swirls

    As long as you know who YOUR God or Jesus is, it shouldn’t matter. People are entitled to their opinion and can say that religion is a joke, but my FAITH and MY BELIEFS as well as yours should not be challenged. The show is satire. I know MY Jesus didn’t turn water into cognac so why should I be offended?

    It’s deeper than face value. If people weren’t so press to find something wrong with the show, they would have seen the good and valid points being made. Some people tried to rob him and his friends…he could have had his homeboys beat him up or whatever but he forgave them and turned the other cheek…that’s a value that can be taken away from the show and a viewpoint made in the Bible.

  • FromUR2UB

    The vampire fangs are scaring me. I think he’s on the wrong show.

  • Lennon Jones

    don’t care and if you don’t like hey don’t watch why complain about something that is a easy fix

  • Addicted2RealityRubbish

    This show is straight up sacrilegious and race isn’t a factor. If he’d been white, Asian or Peruvian, a show like this is still impious. True talk.

  • Guest

    Man, I laughed so hard. Jesus was probably laughing too.

  • Bee

    I don’t care what anyone has to say, I’m not following a show that is making light of anything that pertains to Jesus. Lol I’m not even the most religious person, but I do believe there is a higher being & what not. And to add to what someone else has said, every other movie in regards to Jesus, Noah, etc., has been portrayed by a white actor & held to the highest standard, but when it comes to bs like this Black Jesus show, we have to come out looking like fools.

  • chanela

    Ugh. It’s annoying because these people could have made ANYTHING ELSE.instead, they just help perpetuate ghetto negatives stereotypes like always. Smh these people have the power to turn stuff around folks! Smh

    • Teach_One

      If you knew a little bit about Christen doctrine you will know that the middle east today was once a part of Africa, so you wouldn’t make an ignorant statement like Jesus and others in the bible were middle Eastern. Black Jesus is depicting how Jesus is taught to be, meaning, walking amongst the people doing some of the same things the people were/are doing. Jesus did drink alcohol. It amazes me how many people are quick to rebuttal ignorance and have not read the bible themselves from cover to cover-at least once. The Black Jesus show is comedy at its basis, and it provides teaching moments as well if you have watched the entire episode. The ignorance about the supposed show isn’t the show at all, it comes from within the individuals that doesn’t know any better watching the show titled Black Jesus…

      • guest

        Christen has a doctrine?

  • Courtney Banks

    I think as far as the religious aspect, I think it’s a joke, because religion in itself is a joke. But the race aspect is what bothers me. You’ll notice every time they make these bible adaptations for the screen, when it comes to Noah and Moses, white actors ALL the time. Even though these people are supposedly middle eastern.. You will never see a white Jesus in the trailer parks acting ghetto, because the white/Jewish executives know better then to portray themselves in that manner. But when they finally come close to getting the race correct, is when he’s drinking and cursing acting like a fool. I think the world would be better better place without religion in general, but not at the cost of my people…

    But let Annie or the flame from fantastic four be black ALL H E L L breaks loose..

    • Teach_One

      If you knew a little bit about Christen doctrine you will know that the middle east today was once a part of Africa, so you wouldn’t make an ignorant statement like Jesus and others in the bible were middle Eastern. Black Jesus is depicting how Jesus is taught to be, meaning, walking amongst the people doing some of the same things the people were/are doing. Jesus did drink alcohol. It amazes me how many people are quick to rebuttal ignorance and have not read the bible themselves from cover to cover-at least once. The Black Jesus show is comedy at its basis, and it provides teaching moments as well if you have watched the entire episode. The ignorance about the supposed show isn’t the show at all, it comes from within the individuals that doesn’t know any better watching the show titled Black Jesus.

      • IJS

        Nice try, trying to justify this disrespectful show. Jesus did walk among the common folks, but He did not engage in the same bad things they might have been doing. I HAVE read the Bible, and I know that He drank wine, attended parties and liked to eat, but He did not get drunk, and was not a club-hopper or a glutton. He did not use foul language. John 8:46 says, “Can any of you prove Me (Jesus) guilty of sin?” Though He was falsely accused of many things, no one could truthfully say that He engaged in any sinful activities. Whenever He would heal someone, He would often tell them to “go and sin no more.” How can anyone tell someone not to do something bad, if he’s engaging in the same activity himself? That’s called being a hypocrite, and Jesus did not have any kind words for hypocrites.

        • Mike

          For the universal truth of life in 3 pages, Google “TruthContest” and Click on “The Present”.

          • hollyw

            NO!

      • Courtney Banks

        It’s amazing how often black will write things off in the name of comedy. White people throw you a bone and you eat that ish up…

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