Calls for South Park to be censored over religious content - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 21, 2006

Calls for South Park to be censored over religious content

-21/02/06

Bishops in New Zealand have urged the country's 500,000 Roman Catholics to boycott a network which plans to air an episode of South Park, a series popular with many Christians, featuring a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary.

The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has also joined the debate saying that as a woman she is offended by the image of a Madonna figure spurting blood at the Pope, due to screen in an episode of the South Park cartoon series in May.

The proposed boycott will come as a surprise to many Christians around the world who are big fans of the series in which Jesus Christ often appears.

South Park is an animated series featuring four 3rd graders, Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. The show is set in the Colorado town of South Park where weird things keep happening, whether its being abducted by aliens or avoiding Kyle's little brother Ike. The show is based on the short film by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, "The Spirit of Christmas".

For some Christians, the series has offered insightful theological comment. In one episode, "The Passion of the Jew", the series draws comparisons between the relentless violence of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Jesus' teachings. It also tackles Gibson's alleged anti-Semitism.

Episodes entitled "Christian Rock Hard" (2003) and "Red Hot Catholic Love" (2002) which involved a trip to the Vatican, have tackled the commercialism of Christian music and the controversy of sexual misconduct among some Catholic priests.

Irreverent cartoons have proved a big hit, even with senior church figures. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is a big fan of The Simpsons, which has frequently poked fun at the Christian characters Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy.

The South Park episode at the centre of the current controversy, Bloody Mary - to be screened in May by TV Works - shows a statue of Mary bleeding, taken to be a miracle until Pope Benedict says it is menstruation.

A letter from New Zealand's seven Catholic bishops, read at masses, called the episode "ugly and tasteless".

The TV Works' TV3 network news has already apologised to Muslims after it screened the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The New Zealand arm of Family Life International, an anti-abortion organisation, has set up a website as part of a campaign to try to stop the programme being screened.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, who criticised the New Zealand newspapers that published the controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, said yesterday that likewise, the "Bloody Virgin" episode was an issue of taste and judgment.

"Those who publish in these circumstances of course have their right to free speech in New Zealand, but that doesn't take away from others the right to say what they think about it.

"From what I've heard of it, I'd consider it quite offensive personally but, if the network proceeds, they are going to have to deal with the public debate around it.

"As a woman I find it offensive."

Helen Clark said the issue would add poignancy to a speech she will give next month at an "interfaith dialogue" conference in the Philippines.

The episode was screened in the US before Christmas.

Calls for South Park to be censored over religious content

-21/02/06

Bishops in New Zealand have urged the country's 500,000 Roman Catholics to boycott a network which plans to air an episode of South Park, a series popular with many Christians, featuring a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary.

The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has also joined the debate saying that as a woman she is offended by the image of a Madonna figure spurting blood at the Pope, due to screen in an episode of the South Park cartoon series in May.

The proposed boycott will come as a surprise to many Christians around the world who are big fans of the series in which Jesus Christ often appears.

South Park is an animated series featuring four 3rd graders, Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. The show is set in the Colorado town of South Park where weird things keep happening, whether its being abducted by aliens or avoiding Kyle's little brother Ike. The show is based on the short film by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, "The Spirit of Christmas".

For some Christians, the series has offered insightful theological comment. In one episode, "The Passion of the Jew", the series draws comparisons between the relentless violence of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Jesus' teachings. It also tackles Gibson's alleged anti-Semitism.

Episodes entitled "Christian Rock Hard" (2003) and "Red Hot Catholic Love" (2002) which involved a trip to the Vatican, have tackled the commercialism of Christian music and the controversy of sexual misconduct among some Catholic priests.

Irreverent cartoons have proved a big hit, even with senior church figures. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is a big fan of The Simpsons, which has frequently poked fun at the Christian characters Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy.

The South Park episode at the centre of the current controversy, Bloody Mary - to be screened in May by TV Works - shows a statue of Mary bleeding, taken to be a miracle until Pope Benedict says it is menstruation.

A letter from New Zealand's seven Catholic bishops, read at masses, called the episode "ugly and tasteless".

The TV Works' TV3 network news has already apologised to Muslims after it screened the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

The New Zealand arm of Family Life International, an anti-abortion organisation, has set up a website as part of a campaign to try to stop the programme being screened.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, who criticised the New Zealand newspapers that published the controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, said yesterday that likewise, the "Bloody Virgin" episode was an issue of taste and judgment.

"Those who publish in these circumstances of course have their right to free speech in New Zealand, but that doesn't take away from others the right to say what they think about it.

"From what I've heard of it, I'd consider it quite offensive personally but, if the network proceeds, they are going to have to deal with the public debate around it.

"As a woman I find it offensive."

Helen Clark said the issue would add poignancy to a speech she will give next month at an "interfaith dialogue" conference in the Philippines.

The episode was screened in the US before Christmas.

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