A Christian group in Britain has attacked a play featuring Jesus Christ as a transgender woman, calling it “deeply distressing and offensive”.
Queen of Heaven, Gospel According to JesusA one-woman show by Edinburgh-based transgender playwright Joe Clifford stars Jesus as a transgender woman in the present day. Critics have praised the stage creation for re-imagining a more tolerant world through its depiction of Christianity’s message of love.
A pride-themed virtual event by the Scottish Institute of Education (EIS), a leading teachers’ union, is set to host a variety of LGBTQ artists. The line-up includes Clifford, the . will perform two extracts from Queen of Heaven, Gospel According to Jesus.
The Christian Institute, a non-denominational Christian charity that advocates for the “advance and promotion of Christianity in the United Kingdom”, issued a statement condemning the EIS for featuring Clifford at its event.
Christian Institute education officer John Denning is quoted as saying, “The play intentionally re-imagines Jesus as a trans woman and puts words in his mouth that he never said, misrepresenting him.” did.” “It is deeply painful and humiliating for many Christians who value them and their education above all else.”
“It is hard to see how a teaching union uses membership paid for by its members, many of whom are themselves Christians, to promote this play.”
In its statement, The Christian Institute referred to Clifford—a trans woman—as “a man who identifies as a woman.”
Granthshala Clifford has been contacted for comment.
Although it has attracted positive reviews, Queen of Heaven, Gospel According to Jesus Has long drawn anger from Christian groups. Vitriol has sparked protests outside theaters and, according to Clifford, an onslaught of transphobic abuse and death threats. The Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, reacted to the play, saying that “it was hard to imagine a greater disgrace to Christianity.”
The performance of the play in Brazil, starring trans actor Renata Carvalho, was met with packed venues and backlash from Christian groups in the country.
Brazil production director and translator Natalia Mallo said the demonstrations were met with protests, death threats directed at the cast and crew, and that their car’s tires were cut. Carvalow told Guardian That after one venue was canceled at the last minute, the play was staged in a “semi-degraded venue where we performed under torchlight.”
In 2017, a local judge granted an emergency injunction blocking the performance of the play in the state of So Paulo. The So Paulo Court of Justice later declared the injunction unconstitutional.
In 2018, then-deputy Jair Bolsonaro—today the president of Brazil—called the drama by name when he tweeted: “Who is interested in portraying the image of Christ as a transsexual? Is it freedom of expression? Is it art? And culture? Our denial and protest. 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 compared to the previous year.