Protest message claims that an upcoming movie to be called Corpus Christi depicts Jesus and his disciples as gay.
The claims in the message are false. No such movie is about to be released or is in production at the time of writing. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that such a film is even being considered at this time. Variants of the “gay Jesus movie” rumour have been now been circulating for well over thirty years.
Subject: FW: Movie Corpus Christi
The movie Corpus Christi is due to be released this June to August. Let’s stand for what we believe in and stop the mockery of Jesus Christ our Saviour. If the Muslims do what they believe to be right when films or mockery appears against their religion , where do we stand as Christians?
This disgusting film set to appear in America later this year and it depicts Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals! As a play, this has already been in theatres for a while. It’s called Corpus Christi ‘ which means ‘The Christ Body.’ It’s a revolting mockery of our Lord. But, we can make a difference. That’s why I am sending this e-mail to you. If you do send this around, we may be able to prevent this film from showing in America and South Africa.
Apparently, some regions in Europe have already banned the film. We need a lot of prayers and a lot of e-mails.
As a Christian I want to take a stand in what I believe in and stop the mockery of Jesus Christ our Savior.
At the risk of a bit of inconvenience, I’m forwarding this to all I think would appreciate it. Please help us prevent such offenses against our Lord. It will take you less than 2 minutes! If you are not interested, and do not have the 2 Minutes it will take to do this , please don’t complain when God does not have time for you, because He is far busier than we are.
Remember, Jesus said ‘Deny Me on earth and I’ll deny you before my Father’.
According to this indignant protest message, a soon to be released film called “Corpus Christi” will portray Jesus Christ and his disciples as homosexuals. It urges recipients to forward the message on in the hope that release of the movie can be stopped.
However, no such movie is about to be released or is in production at the time of writing. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that such a film is even being considered at this time.
Variants of the “gay Jesus movie” rumour have now been circulating for well over thirty years. In some early versions of the rumour, concerned Christians were asked to fill out an attached form letter and mail it to the Attorney General of either Alabama or Illinois. Later versions were geared as email petitions which asked recipients to “sign” and forward the messages.
In 1985, the Attorney General of the State of Illinois sent the following letter to the writer of the then-popular newspaper column “Ann Landers” in an attempt to quell rumours about the “gay Jesus” film. The letter, along with the Ann Launders reply, was subsequently published in the column:
Dear Ann Landers: The office of the Attorney General of the State of Illnois respectfully requests your assistance in combating an international chain letter that is distressing hundreds and thousands of Christians and those of other faiths as well.
The chain letter is a plea to protest “in the strongest possible language” the making of a movie in which Jesus Christ could be depicted as a swinging homosexual. Both this office and the Associated Press have chased down every possible clue and cannot find a shred of truth in the story that such a film was ever in production.
Modern Film News, which reported the film plans, has been out of business for more than two years. Moreover, 90 percent of the protest mail that has been overwhelming our staff is addressed to the former attorney general, William J. Scott, who has been out of office longer than four years.
Despite our efforts to get the word to the public that the chain letter is a hoax, we continue to receive approximately 1,000 protests every week and at least a dozen phone inquiries each working day. The inquiries and protests have come from 41 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Spain, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, India, the Philippines, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Portugal.
We have concluded that the “Jesus movie” rumor originated in 1977 when a suburban Chicago publication, Modern People News, reported that certain interests in Europe were planning such a film and requested that readers express their opinion of the purported project. The result was the chain-letter protest, which, for some unknown reason, has been revived and is again sweeping the world.
We are appealing to you, Ann Landers, to help us get the word out. The scope of your readership and impact on millions of newspaper readers around the world cannot be overestimated.
The postage and phone calls, not to mention the valuable time of employees, run into a great deal of money that could be used for so many worthwhile purposes. Will you please help us?
– Neil F. Hartigan, Attorney General, State of Illnois
Dear Attorney General Hartigan:
Hoaxes die hard and the zanier the hoax, the more difficult it is to convince people that it is not true.
If any of you, my readers, receive a copy of that wacky chain letter, take my word for the fact that there is not an iota of truth in it. And please tell friends that chain letters are illegal and should be tossed into the handiest wastebasket or fed to the nearest goat.
Despite the earnest efforts of the Attorney General and Ann Launders, the protest message has continued to circulate in various forms ever since.
Some have suggested that the rumour might have originally been derived from a 1974 gay-porn film called “Him” which apparently portrayed Jesus as a gay man living in the modern world. Information about the film was included in “The Golden Turkey Awards”, a 1980 book about bad movies, but few other references to the film are available.
Film blogger Phil Nugent noted:
One movie about the life of Christ that didn’t make it into Turner Classic Movies’ Easter weekend schedule is Him, a 1974 pornographic film, said to have been directed by “Ed D. Louie.” The film is said to intercut scenes depicting Jesus’ homoerotic sex life with the apostles and modern-day scenes about a young gay man who comes to a better understanding of himself sexually and spiritually by using the picture’s vision of Big Gay Jesus as a role model. The movie is also infamous for a scene in which the hero describes his desires in confession to a priest, who is on the other side of the booth listening and masturbating. Most discussions of Him have to rely on a certain amount of trust and guesswork, because scarcely anyone is known to have seen it, and it’s not clear that any prints of it still exist. For a while, there was serious reason to doubt that it ever existed at all.
The authors of “The Golden Turkey Awards” included one “complete hoax” in their book as a challenge to readers and there were some suggestions that “Him” may well have been that hoax. However, the hoax movie was later revealed as the entry in the book titled “Dog of Norway”.
It seems more likely that the rumours did originate with the 1977 snippet in Modern People News as noted by the Illinois Attorney General. However, even if “Him” was the catalyst for the current call to arms, it appears that the film is so little known and watched – no copies are available and it is unclear if any actually exist – that continued protest seems rather foolish. In fact, protesting against such an obscure film would serve only to give it more attention than it deserves.
It is only later versions of the message that name the supposed upcoming movie as “Corpus Christi”, presumably after a Terrence McNally play of the same name. This acclaimed but controversial play not only provided a name for the supposed blasphemous movie but also added a degree of unwarranted credibility to the ongoing rumours about its creation.
Corpus Christi the play did indeed portray Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals living in modern-day Texas. The play, which premiered in the USA in 1998 and the UK in 2000, was condemned as blasphemous by some religious people. It provoked protests and even bomb threats and its author Terrence McNally received death threats. The play was also performed in Sydney in 2008 as part of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras where it once again raised the ire of religious leaders.
The supposed movie described in the message should not be confused with a documentary film also named Corpus Christi which was made by filmmakers Gerard Mordillat and Jerome Prieur. The film explores the historical figure of Jesus. This documentary does not portray Jesus as gay and has no connection whatsoever to the McNally play.
In 2010, further undeserved credibility was given to the hoax message when news of a proposed film called “Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption” began making its way around the Internet. This 2012 film bears no relation to the proposed gay Jesus movie described in the protest email. Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption is a documentary film about the above mentioned Terrence McNally play. A plot summary of the proposed file on IMDb notes:
The documentary follows the troupe and the playwright sharing their stories with supporters and protesters as they continue their tour across the world to communities where hate and bigotry are much more prevalent.Mirroring the reflections of dialogue in society today, especially in regards to gay rights, gay marriage, and separation of church and state, this production has become a vehicle of change for a community struggling to find its voice.
The IMDb file also notes:
Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption is often mistakenly cited as a film version of the play Corpus Christi, but it is not; it’s a documentary about the controversy surrounding one particular troupe’s production of the play, not a movie version of the play itself.
To reiterate, there are no credible references that support the claim in the message that a movie featuring a gay Jesus is being made or even planned. Thus, the continued circulation of this rumour decades after its inception will serve no good purpose. Inciting wrath among Christians and rallying them to protest against a non-existent movie is utterly pointless.