“CORPUS CHRISTI” RETURNS
Catalyst December Issue 1999
The Terence McNally play about a promiscuous gay Jesus, “Corpus Christi,” has resurfaced in Denver, Houston, Santa Ana, Edinburgh and London. The Catholic League led a protest in New York last fall when the play opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club; we drew 2,000 protesters to a rally against the play on opening night.
The play no sooner opened in Denver when it closed. When questioned by a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, William Donohue said that the league would not continue to protest the play each time it was performed at some “artsy dump.” He indicated, however, that if it were to reappear at a prestigious venue or on a state-supported college campus, the league would protest vigorously.
The London-based Islamic fundamentalist group Al-Muhajiroun said that McNally deserved the death sentence for writing the play; a fatwa, or death sentence, was formally passed by the Shari’ah Court. Muslims regard Jesus as a “Messenger of God.” The fatwa, however, can only be carried out by an Islamic state. So if McNally were to travel to a Muslim nation, he would face arrest and execution. According to Islamic law, the only way he could escape the death penalty would be if he converted to Islam; if he simply repents, he would still face execution.
When a reporter for Back Stage, a newspaper that covers theater activities in New York, called William Donohue for a comment on this development, he branded the Muslim action “outrageous,” saying it was “the politics of extremism.” “We want to condemn oratorically someone we think objectionable,” Donohue said. “It’s quite another thing to condemn someone in the serious sense of a death warrant. At that point you’re dealing with fanatics.”