New Show Stars Cussing, Pot-Smoking Jesus

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WASHINGTON -- After this year's spate of successful faith-based films, like "Son of God," "Heaven is for Real," "Noah," and "God's Not Dead," it appears Hollywood is ready to cash in on religiously-themed entertainment.

But the latest incarnation of the story of Jesus has Christians outraged and calling for its cancellation before it debuts next week on Aug 7.

The TV series, titled "Black Jesus," is slated to premiere on the Cartoon Network's late night lineup on Adult Swim.

While its creators promote "Black Jesus" as a comedy, critics complain there's nothing funny about the upcoming live-action show. They say it's crude, offensive, and sacrilegious.

Adult Swim released a trailer last week showing an anachronistic Jesus who lives in present-day Compton, California. In the video, he commits uncharacteristically unsanctimonious acts, like smoking pot, using profanity, and often getting caught in the crossfire of gun violence or verbal abuse.

The perplexing portrayal of Jesus has some Christians and conservatives demanding a boycott of the network and its advertisers.

"I do think we have to start boycotting, not watching these things - not letting the people that advertise on these venues make unrighteous gain from them," Bishop Harry Jackson said.

How can you make your voice heard? Visit Change.org and sign the Christian Network's petition to have the "Black Jesus" show cancelled. 

You can also contact Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of Adult Swim, at the following address:

Jackson pastors the multicultural Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. He told CBN News the show reinforces negative racial stereotypes while its chief aim is to chip away at society's respect for Christians and their biblically-held beliefs.

"I do think that whoever we are - if we ourselves are black or Asian or white, Hispanic - and we let this go on, we're going to see worse and worse depictions of Jesus," Jackson explained. "And, by the way, they're going to make fun of our faith."

Bishop Jackson shares more of this thoughts about the new "Black Jesus" show below:

On social media, some have criticized the boycott, suggesting the backlash is based on racism and the depiction of a Jesus who happens to be black.

Tim Graham monitors bias in the media for NewsBusters, in connection with the Media Research Center.

Graham denies the outrage has anything to do with the color of Jesus's skin. Instead, he argues it has everything to do with the entertainment industry's long record of mocking the Christian faith.

"There's nothing objectionable about the color of Jesus when you love Jesus. And there's nothing wrong with Jesus coming to an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles," Graham said. "But that's, of course, not the way the media is going to try to portray it. And let's be straight -- Hollywood is in no way interested in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ."

CBN News requested a comment from the parent company of the Adult Swim network, Turner Broadcasting. It provided the following statement:

"Black Jesus is a satire and one interpretation of the message of Jesus played out in modern day morality tales; and despite what some may consider a controversial depiction of Jesus, it is not the intent to offend any race or people of faith."

NewsBusters' Graham believes people of faith who are offended can make a difference. He points out that past protests of other shows he labels "anti-Christian" were forced to take an early curtain call, like Adult Swim's "Moral Orel."

Bishop Jackson adds Christians should also focus on getting in on the game themselves to get the last laugh.

"We as believers have got to use our craft to tell our stories," he explained. "What we really need to do as a community is take this opportunity for this culture war and for us to engage with fire fighting fire, meaning creative media coming against their creative media, our truth coming against their absence of truth."

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.