UPDATE: Did SNL cross a line in “DJesus Uncrossed” skit?

(RNS) The line between satire and stupidity is notoriously thin.

Last week, “Saturday Night Live” ran a skit called “DJesus Uncrossed,” a spoof on Quentin Tarantino’s revenge flick “Django Unchained.”

“Jesus emerges from his tomb and has the Romans on his radar,” runs the spoof’s tagline. A mock quote from a movie critic calls it “a less violent `Passion of the Christ.'”

Some Christians were pretty upset over the skit and implied that they are singled out for satire, while other religions get a free pass.

“Over the weekend, Muslims in Egypt set fire to a Christian church—the second in a month,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. “The church’s cross was torn down and Christians were stoned by these barbarians. Imagine how much fun SNL could have with that? But they don’t have the guts to go there.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also criticized SNL.

“Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

“While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line.”

Awad added that many Americans may not realize that Muslims consider Jesus to have been a great prophet and add the honorific “peace be upon him” when mentioning his name.

David R. Henson, a progressive Christian, praised SNL for unmasking the stars-and-stripes, revenge-driven, macho-man strain of conservative Christianity.

The skit “pulls back the curtain and shows us just how twisted our Jesus really is,” Henson writes on his Patheos blog. “We want a Savior like the one SNL offers. We want the Son of God to kick some a** and take some names.”

Our own Mark Silk says Christians should chill out.

First-century Jews wanted a messiah who could smash some Roman heads. Jesus of Nazareth didn’t really fit the bill, so the Book of Revelation re-imagines Jesus as a warrior who returns to earth clothed in a bloody vesture and bearing a mouth-sword to slay the wicked.

“Of course, this isn’t the image of Jesus that has imprinted itself on the minds of most of his followers,” Silk says. “But up to and including the sword, the blood-dipped vesture, and the white horse,  SNL’s enactment is canonical as hell.”

UPDATE: The American Family Association says JCPenney and Sears have pulled ads from SNL as a result of the skit.

About the author

Daniel Burke

Daniel Burke worked for Religion News Service from 2006-2013. He now co-edits CNN's Belief Blog.


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  • We should carefully guard against anything that mocks the Christ. He died for us… It is through him that we are granted forgiveness of our sins and may attain salvation…. That said, there will be non believers and ridiculers in these last days. While we cannot stop them or should even try, we must reject their wicked views and constantly pay attention to the Perfector of our faith.

    1 John 5:19
    “We know we originate with God, but the WHOLE WORLD is lying in the power of the wicked one.”

  • The sketch was not about Jesus — it was about Quentin Tarantino’s blatantly violence-laden warping of history in both “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained.” The only reason it’s funny is that the “Tarantino movie” is blatantly at odds with the true Jesus, resurrected savior and author of life. Jesus’ image is not being mocked; what’s being mocked is how Jesus would look through Tarantino’s eyes. The sketch works only if you accept that Jesus is the prince of peace. That’s why the quoted reviewer wonders if Jesus really used the “N” word. It’s irony.

  • I can accept that view from someone who may not be a believer. Obviously its meant to be ironic comedy. Still, in a much broader sense it does belittle Christianity. Granted, there is such apostasy and hypocrisy in modern day christendom, that it befouls Jesus name by itself on a daily basis.

  • This is appalling! How can Christians allow such a full assault on our Lord and Savior? We should be taking a clue from how the Islamists react to using Mohammad’s name in a disrespectful manner. All Christians should be up in arms and VOCAL about such disrespect and sacrilege. Yes, SNL has definitely gone too far. No question.

  • What’s offensive is Tarantino’s violence and mayhem, and that’s what SNL is spoofing. It’s damned uncomfortable to watch the skit, but our Lord and Savior portrayed as a vengeful killer is just plain ridiculous to anybody who knows Him (or knows anything about Him), so I see God winking at a righteous indictment of horrific and cavalier movie treatment of violence and death. God is love.

  • I knew immediately after seeing the skit on Saturday night that many would be offended. I didn’t get offended though because it is a SNL spoof. If we do get offended, it is a good time to ask ourselves why. The true message of who Jesus is will stand for all time and can survive negative or distorted portrayals. The thing that really stuck with me though is how right-leaning members of our society would love to see that Jesus as a gun-toting, vengeful Savior. If this skit helps us to have even one conversation about the true meaning of Jesus’ message, then perhaps the initial gut-reaction can be overcome.

  • It is evidence of an increasingly apostate country and church. “Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked. For whatever a man soweth he reapeth.” Holy Father, for the sake of your Son, Jesus, and the glory of your name, have mercy on us!

  • This is the SNL’s desparate attempt to keep viewers while they are falling in the ratings. The sponsers I will BOYCOTT, every sponser of SNL should be boycotted. The writers of this sham of a show,would NEVER write skits about the extreme muslims or Black Panthers, but they have a moral mentality to attack a faith that promotes love and forgivness. The writters are just “cowards” and the actors who follw such writtings are showing desparation for money at any cost. I will never watch that program again. And I hope that many will also voice their opinions on this bottom of the barrel acts.Shame,on SNL and their writers.

  • Mark,you are most certainly right,and these writers are so desparate to make a buck,that they would sell their own souls. This is the signs of the times,Jesus is returning for the Church soon.

  • The barbs were aimed at violence/gore lovers like Taratino and Christian fundamentalists and fakes like that sicko Westboro Baptist bunch, American Family Assoc, Tony Perkins, KKK, and others who misuse Holy Scripture in attempts to gain wealth, power and political influence. Our modern pharisees. Followers of JC can be grateful for satires such as that. The sketch would have been right at home as street theater in 1st century Jerusalem. Be not afraid!, of SNL, oh ye believers!

  • Debbo, I would never condone this kind of “entertainment” in our home for children to see,would you? There is no excuse for such disgusting so called acting on the media/programs. Where would you suggest the line be drawn? This leaves no room for argument as far as I am concerned. This is a country of “choice”, and with that in mind,I choose to BOYCOTT all sponsers of SNL as well we will never watch such trash again. It was a cool show in the past,but now the producer and writers have surely crossed the line.

  • Why should believers interpret the skit differently from non-believers? Why can’t Christians get–and appreciate–the irony and the satire as well as non-Christians? I fail to see your reasoning here.

  • Who said anything about this being appropriate for children? And why does it have to be appropriate for children before it is appropriate for you or for Christians to watch? And if SNL was “a cool show in the past,” I guess that means you were ok with them mocking or satirizing other people. So boycott away, but you might want to take that log out of your eye first.

  • He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, [our] faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3
    The prophecy of Isaiah about the Messiah Jesus was spot on on 700 years or so before Christ was born– was spot on during His life on Earth, and is still spot on today as ignorant mockers of God continue to mock the Lord Jesus as in the SNL skit .. But He will have the final say… “[As] I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God. Romans 14:11

  • Just to be clear: you’re saying that b/c SNL depicted Jesus as an avenger who made his opponents submit to his violent, bloody will, they were mocking him. And b/c SNL mocked Jesus, he will eventually “have the final say”…by making them submit to his all-powerful, irresistible will?

  • Excellent Eric!

    Is Jesus a vengeful hater? Then how did he manage to ask God to forgive his executors? Are there some things that Jesus simply cannot forgive? I thought he was all powerful. Hmm. Guess I was mistaken.

  • I agree with Mark. we should chill. Nobody seemed to get that upset when the movie “Bad Santa” mocked good ole’ Chris Krinlge, who also keeps a list of who is naughty and who is nice,

    why get upset about a simple skit? are we that uptight?

    I never got offended at the monty python movies, either, and they mocked religion all the time.

  • I found the sketch to be hysterically funny. I don’t consider it blasphemous. I recognize it as showing Tarantino is so bloody in his films he could turn Jesus into one of his main characters.

    I’m Catholic.

  • It is so sad what we have all become. It seems we strive for the lowest common denominator. I guess I am just so tired of everything going so low class. We are entertaining ourselves to stupidity.

  • First of all, there is no God and if there was a man named Jesus, he was not his son. He may have been a cool dude that had a following but son of God, um, no; people need to get over it.
    Secondly, the fact that it pisses of Donahoue and his pious lot is just double the fun in my book. Way to go SNL, keep up the good work.

  • The skit was clearly offensive to Christians and that’s okay. It’s a free country. Artists have a right to make art that offends and if it offends you, you have the right to say you’re offended. That should be the end of it.

    It cracks me up that some Christians feel singled out while at the same time Muslims claim to also be offended because Jesus holds a special meaning for them as well. Give me a break. If I draw Mohamed should you be allowed to kill me based on your religion because you’re offended? Religion should not be immune to criticism or satire regardless of the religion.

    We live in a secular society that was set up with separation of church and state for the purpose of preventing oppression from being carried out by any single religion. I’m tired of hearing about how religious groups are offended by this or that. There’s something out there to offend everyone.

  • This was great. I would love to see ones with Mohammed and Gautama Buddha. Because some people believe certain characters are holy, does not make them so. Unless their diviness can be proven in a court of law, anyone and anything is fair game for satire.

  • I hope that was a laugh track injudiciously used, as laugh tracks are, apparently, meant to be. That anyone would earnestly laugh out loud at this sillyness is sad. SNL has descended quite a ways from the cleverly irreverent humor of the John Beluchi era. Cleverness and humor seem to be lost commodities these days.

    Put me down for a “stupid” vote.

  • That was awesome, loved it. I suggest that people stop wearing their dogma on their sleeve. Knowing that it is first a fictional character with no historical proof and that 95% of it is borrowed from older religions…jesus has the same attributes as Sol Invictus for example.

  • If there ever was any doubt in my mind that the media is driven by ratings rather than intelligence; this skit removed it. I find it almost prophetic that a comedic skit on a secular tv show, can describe the return of the Son of God, and portray it as a time of vengence. God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:35 They got the focus of the vengence wrong, it is not Romans, but those who deny Jesus as the Son of God, and refuse to accept Him. I hope they are ready for His return!

  • We need less handwringing. Our shock over blasphemy is conditioned by religious privilege. Blasphemy is a bogus charge invented to suppress dissent and to insulate believers from having to think about their beliefs. Only religious ideas are exempt from scrutiny. If there were any truth to religion, believers wouldn’t be so touchy. The supernatural is not self-evident. It’s beyond the reach of empirical evidence. Believers overlook inconsistencies in scripture to maintain belief in revelation. God is either malevolent, impotent or fictional. I’m going with fictional.

  • I’m a Christian. In fact, I’m a pastor in a very large denomination. Crsns need not be so fearful that someone might deny or distort the religion. For pete sake, the Bible is full of contradictions. It’s not a history book, nor is it so fragile that any disagreement will break it.

    Trust your faith! Don’t be so thin-skinned! It’s the arguments, the questioning that grows your faith. I think God can deal with it. God doesn’t require your protection.

    Being outraged about a comedy skit on SNL is in no one’s calling. Use opportunities like this to share your faith, practice your discipleship. Who would want to be a part of such a humorless, fragile, angry and judgmental bunch!

    There have been many negative comments here about Crsnty, and the comments of the fearful add plenty of fuel. You might recall that Jesus had lots to say about arrogant, critical Crsns.

    Calm down. Listen respectfully to what the nonbelieving commenters have to say. Give thought to how you can respond constructively. Most of all, don’t whine about being picked on. For pete sake, Crsns run this nation, dominating every single aspect of American culture.


  • If you don’t show your kids the material that you find questionable, how are you supposed to complain about it? It’s almost like this late-night sketch show WASN’T created for young children. Craziness.

  • First I think SNL is confusing Mohammad and Jesus.

    Second, when will they do a similar skit on Mohammad. If Christians are such radical fascists and the Christian right is so motivated to resort to violence where is the reaction?

    People pick on Christians for the same reason the always have. It is easy to bully those who turn the other cheek.

  • Sir,

    “Crsns run this nation”. Really? “…dominating every single aspect of American culture”. Really?

    What country do you live in?

    I find my country to be very diverse and pluralistic and while Crsns have a voice and influence I would not discount by any degree that in recent years alternate voices have come to the front. Look at the acceptability of living together outside marriage, or even the movement to normalize marriage for couples in same gendered relationships. I think you are living in the past. The nation is moving beyond the time when Crsns controlled everything.

  • It does not matter how SNL tries to explain the offensive and insensitive portrayal of our Lord in a graphic and violent skit. It was still wrong. Making a mockery of our Lord is never right. But SNL has steeped to a new low this time. I was not laughing when I viewed this Filth that was meant to be amusing at our Lords exspense. SNL has finally sunk into the cesspool that they call a show. But then again offending people is what they do best. But whatever it takes to get ratings .

  • Red calls it a sacrilege. I ask, How? How is it a sacrilege to satire something that doesn’t exist? When was the last your Lord and savior stopped by a church to say hello and thank you for your prayers and rituals? Nah, it’s no different than mocking Superman, the Bogeyman, etc.

  • Nah John, Crsns still do. Let’s see, we’ve got ONE Muslim in Congress, a couple of Hindus and ZERO atheists. How many non-Crsns Supreme Court justices? How many school holidays are based on Muslim or Jewish holidays? Then of course there are the political polls telling us that an overwhelming majority of Americans would never even consider voting for a Crsn for public office. Right?

    What you are experiencing is a small diminishment of Crsn privilege.

  • I have an idea. Those of you who are so offended, read closely the comments that you find so offensive. Try to hear what they are saying. Often the people you disagree with most passionately, have the most to teach you. Instead of being so defensive, look for clues to enhance your ministry. Most of your comments are merely reinforcing the negative stereotypical images of Crsns.

  • Some Christians need to chill a bit on things like this. It was satire, similar skits have been done before by SNL regarding Muslims and that has gotten pushback as well. While I am not very familar with Islam I know that Christ preached non-violence especially when it came to persecution and mockery towards the faith. It was said quite beautifully in the article and if the Christian or Muslim’s, for that matter, would just IGNORE the criticism and satirical skits I’m betting they would go away because no one seems to be paying attention or complaining which means not caring which gets a whole lot less press than outrage and complaints. I personally doubt Christ would have complained for he said thatjudgement came first to the House of the Lord and since there is a bit of truth to satirical skits like this Christ himself would be condemning the avctions of the church first long before complaining about what some skit or complaint against the skit had any revelance. to him and he also would be telling his people to clean up their act before complaining about others actions. One nagging question to me though is this: Why can’t people who are offended by something they see on TV or hear on the radio just turn the offending channel off instead of trying to force their judgements or beliefs on others? That is, after all, the ultimate insult to the program or skit, or comment in question that everyone who was offended just switched to another channel instead of watching and giving the program, skit, or comment the ratings it doesn’t deserve.

  • Let us not forget that there is most definitely a secular world, and they have every bit as much right to portray their variety of “humor” as you do to speak out against it. All that being said, it wasn’t funny at all, and I wasn’t in the least bit offended by it. SNL is just continuing their long decline from early success, and I don’t even know how they are still relevant, other than people getting up in arms about a sophomoric skit that only adolescents would find even remotely funny. WWJBS? (what would John Belushi say?)

  • I just think it is pathetic that they would mock Jesus, when they do not have the balls themselves to mock any other religion. It is like picking upon the weak underling, being a bully. Why not show how big and tough they are by picking on the Jews, or picking on the Muslims? Go ahead and mock Mohammed. Jesus never provoked violence against anybody, nor did he advocate mocking them. His was a peaceful existence and coexistence, love they neighbor as thyself. It is obvious that these people only love themselves, not their neighbors, and advocate violence of the mind. It is about the money to them, and only the money. They would sell out their own mothers for money, as most people commenting on this would. They sit their and watch their tv, listen to its message of consumerism, and then complain if it is threatened to be taken away because of abuse and over reaching. There is such a thing as over reaching, and we seem to have forgotten it here. As Marshall McCluen said, the Medium is the message, and the generations have now been brain washed enough to put their faith in the medium, not the message. Ah, the facebook and twitter age.
    I dare all of you who said look the other way to try and do this with the Muslim faith and then make your same arguments, or the Jewish faith. See what happens then. I dare SNL, who are Jewish producers, to try and do this with the Muslim faith. Lets see how big and tough you are then. But is easier to pick on the Christians, because we advocate turning the other cheek. And of course, you would never do this with your own faith, because of the peer pressure it would bring upon you.
    What a great country where we give oscars to someone who mocks Jesus, and wins an oscar for his portrayal of a character that is violent.

  • When? He’s been coming back for 2000 years but never shows up. He never stops into synagogue to talkn to anyone. He never takes out any billboards. I wonder why. I also wonder why he would play such a dumb game with his believers. I’ll bet it’s because he doesn’t exist.

  • Nobody died for your sins. Where is this Jesus, this man-god? Man-gods are Greco-Roman pagan idols. What kind of god is silent and never visits the temples and churches and mosques erected to honor him? Where is this god that talked to Abraham and Noah? He’s left you in a lurch. He has forsaken you and gone to other planets.