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Archbishop invites TV show boss to church following on-air Jesus joke

by Kelly Valencia
TV SHOW THE PROJECT JESUS JOKE.PNG - Banner image
The Project - TEN

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney has invited the boss of an Australian TV show to church after it allowed a guest to make an offensive joke about Jesus. 

In a letter to the channel, Archbishop Anthony Fisher described the joke as "extremely upsetting" and invited all the show's staff to attend the Good Friday or Easter Sunday service to "fully experience the reverence Christians have for Jesus Christ". 

He wrote: "During prime-time, the guest used the crucifixion of Jesus as a source of ridicule and derision. Presented as a 'joke', the crude remark was of a sexual nature and highly inappropriate."

"Worryingly, the insult not only went unchallenged but was even endorsed with spirited laughter by members of the panel.

"That a 'news and current affairs' program would so flagrantly mock the beliefs of more than half of all Australians is extremely upsetting and frankly incredible."

On Wednesday, comedian Reuben Kaye made an off-colour joke about Jesus during his appearance on The Project, a popular chat show. Before making the comment, Kaye said that he has a lot of online critics "from a religious angle". 

His remarks were met with laughter from several panellists, including The Project's co-host Sarah Harris but were less well received online, with many calling for the show to be cancelled. 

The backlash prompted an apology from the show, read by Harris and her co-host Waleed Aly.

"Live TV is unpredictable. And when this happened in the last few moments of the show, it took us all by surprise, there wasn't a lot of time to react in a considered way," Harris said. 

Aly added: "We weren't expecting a comment like that to be made and we acknowledge the offence it caused. We are sorry."

But for Archbishop Anthony, the apology felt "forced and insincere".

"One gets the impression that the panellists are either unaware or indifferent to the hurt they have caused not only to Christians but people of faith throughout the nation," Archbishop Antony continued. 

"Moreover, the apology was not posted on The Project Facebook page yet the video clip containing the offensive remarks is still available for viewing."

"It is clear to anyone who watched the Project on Tuesday night that those who hold traditional Christian beliefs are treated with such contempt by many within the media."

Almost 20,000 Australians have signed a change.org petition lobbying for The Project to be axed.

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