A play depicting Jesus Christ as a transgender woman is causing major concern for some Christians and opening new dialogue for others.
Jo Clifford is a transgender woman and a Christian, and she is the star and writer of the show called The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven.
Jesus Christ, reimagined in a completely different way than traditional Christians view their Savior, is not the only traditional Biblical view turned upside down. Stories from the Bible are retold in new ways in the play, and some people are calling the play offensive and downright blasphemous, according to The Global Dispatch.
The play’s synopsis reads, “Join Queen Jesus for a revolutionary queer ritual in which bread is shared, wine is drunk and familiar stories are reimagined by a transgender Jesus. Team Jesus is now embarking on a national and international pilgrimage of creative, spiritual and LGBTI sites and spaces, forging partnerships with theatres, church groups and communities on the way.”
Clifford explains that the play was written in such a way as if Jesus has come back to the current time as a transgender woman. Jesus will interact with the audience, including breaking bread with them and drinking wine.
The play is set to be performed at the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but some Christians are picketing and protesting against it.
Rev. Tim Anderson, rector of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Dundonald; Pastor Stuart Crooks from Dundonald Baptist Church; Rev. William Press from Knockbreda Church; David Luckman from Crosslinks Ireland; and Trevor Johnston from All Saint’s on University Street wrote to The Belfast Telegraph to explain why they found the play about Jesus Christ as a transgender woman to be so distressing.
“The traditional teaching of the church, expressed in its historic creeds, clearly portrays Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God. As the Bible says, he is ‘the exact imprint’ of his Father in Heaven (Hebrews 1.3) and the good news of the Christian message entirely depends on this unique and unchangeable relationship. Although in his incarnation he is male, the New Testament is very clear that his death upon the cross is for all. All have sinned and all can be redeemed through faith in him, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, social class or any other human distinction.”
While Clifford has already performed the play in different churches and other venues, she did feel the backlash against the play personally when people threatened her and others associated with the play with physical violence at the play’s debut in 2009.
She told The Huffington Post that it brought back feelings she had experienced from previous emotional abuse.
Now more people are open to the play, which depicts Jesus Christ as the queen of heaven. Clifford says Christians and non-believers are more supportive of the play than ever before.
“It’s been moving and exciting to see how many Christian people are supporting me now, as well as non-believers,” Clifford said. “It seems to speak to them in a way that I find really beautiful.”
In Belfast, Clifford will not be doing a live version of the play. A recorded version will be available to an audience, and then Clifford will be there to answer questions the audience may have.
Leaders of some of the churches in the area warn Christians that the play is offense to Christians and to Jesus Christ. They continue to “respectfully urge” for the play to be cancelled, but it appears that the show will go own for Clifford and her supporters.
[Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News]