Churches plan Jesus campaign to counter play with gay figure

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- A group of churches will present a series of sermons on Jesus in response to a college play production that features a gay, Christ-like figure.

Pastors say the sermons will address questions such as ''Who is Jesus?'' and ''What has he done for me?''

''Rather than being anti-anything, I just want to be pro-Jesus,'' said Jim Pearson, senior pastor at Brookside Community Church. ''It's important as Christians that we regularly revisit what we believe.''

A student production of the play ''Corpus Christi'' is scheduled for six performances beginning Friday at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

''Corpus Christi,'' by Terrence McNally, is about growing up gay in a Texas Gulf Coast town. It features a homosexual Christ-like figure named Joshua and 12 other male characters, most of whom bear the names of Christ's disciples.

The play's student director, Jonathan Gilbert, has said the script is not meant to depict Christ's life.

''It's not talking about facts. It's saying what if we had a guy now whose life was similar to Christ's, except set in the '50s through '70s and (he) died the same way, and he was gay. Let's look at that,'' he said.

Opponents led by former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Price filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to move ''Corpus Christi'' off the university campus. A federal judge ruled that granting an injunction would infringe on students' rights. Price has since asked the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review the decision.

The church group has purchased two newspaper ads to list the churches involved and the dates and times of services.

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