Discover more from The James Macpherson Report
The Media's Double Standard on Religion
When it comes to mocking religion, the media is hardly inclusive
Sarah Harris, co-host of The Project, has conceded that a crass joke about Jesus by a comedian earlier this year should never have been broadcast on the program.
But, speaking on the Matt Johns podcast this week, she worried that outrage over the joke risked introducing de facto blasphemy laws into Australia.
Queer comedian Reuben Kaye scandalised the country back in February when he made this joke about Jesus on Channel Ten, in prime time …
“I love Jesus. I love any man who can get nailed for three days straight and come back for more,” he said, stunning the hosts of the show into laughter.”
I said, at the time, that airing the joke was actually a backhanded compliment to Jesus and His followers.
There are certain religions you can’t joke about.
But Rueben Kaye didn’t hesitate to joke about Jesus because - even if he knows nothing else of the Christian God - he evidently knows Jesus forgave those who persecuted him, and commanded his followers to do the same.
And Sarah Harris didn’t hesitate to laugh hysterically at the joke because she clearly felt it wasn’t a danger to do so.
Curiously, when Harris and her co-host Waleed Aly later apologised, they apologised first to Muslims!
Waleed told viewers …
“During an interview last night, our guest told a joke we know was deeply and needlessly offensive to many of you. We want to acknowledge the particular offence and hurt that caused our Muslim, but especially our Christian viewers.”
Weird. But moving right along.
Reaction to the joke was swift.
Hosts of The Project were slammed online, people petitioned for the show to be taken off air, and Harris said this week that she had been inundated with threats.
She told Matt Johns …
“It’s only really stopped in the last couple of weeks, the messages. Going after my kids and stuff. But it’s wild where we are at now.”
She said that people upset about the joke needed to realise she was raised a Catholic.
“I was born and raised Catholic. I dressed up as Mother Mary in 2017 for Christian mass and took my new born baby Harry as Jesus. I’ve got the photos and I can show you.”
I’m not exactly sure how playing the Virgin Mary in a Christmas pageant six years ago makes it okay to laugh hysterically at a joke about Jesus engaging in a gay orgy, but for what it’s worth, Sarah Harris is kind of Catholic, and has photos to prove it.
But Harris said the thing that really concerned her about the ill-timed joke was the over-the-top reaction that suggested religion could not be joked about at all.
She told Johns …
“This is leaning very close to blasphemy, and the reaction that we’re getting that we can’t joke about religion and what that means.
“I’m not defending having the joke on the show because it was absolutely the wrong context and the wrong forum for that, but when we start talking about what you can and can’t joke about … are we going to move onto blasphemy laws next?
“It’s concerning for comedy as well. Because comedy is supposed to be the salve and what helps us understand complicated issues and make sense of things. If we are going to say you can’t joke about that, it’s completely off limits, it’s a really bizarre time we find ourselves in.”
Christians are used to being ridiculed, and they are used to seeing Jesus mocked.
What upsets Christians is not so much that people in the media joke about Jesus; It’s that people in the media ONLY joke about Jesus.
For people who love to go on and on about inclusion, their comedy is not very inclusive in that it never seems to include, you know, other religions.
When was the last time you heard a joke about Muhammad on national television?
Can’t recall? Neither can I.
And the reason you can’t recall a joke about Muhammad on national television is because people don’t joke about Muhammad on national television.
Make crass jokes about Jesus and you’ll get some angry emails, maybe a petition demanding you apologise.
But make crass jokes about Muhammad, and there’s no telling what might happen.
All of which makes Sarah Harris’ sudden concern about the introduction of de facto blasphemy laws a pretty funny joke in itself.
Is Harris worried that queer comedians might become too afraid to joke about Jesus the way they’re already too afraid to joke about Muhammad?
Is Harris fearful that unspoken blasphemy laws will stop jokes about the Christian faith in the same way that unspoken blasphemy laws have already stopped jokes about the Muslim faith?
For the record, I agree with Sarah Harris that we ought to be able to joke about anything, including religion.
But the fact Sarah Harris is only speaking about the important of freedom to mock religion after suffering backlash for telling a joke about Christianity is yet another example of the media’s double standard.
There’s one rule for Christianity, and one rule for everybody else.