DUBLIN — The Irish public service broadcaster RTE has apologized for causing offense after receiving hundreds of complaints about a blasphemous comedy skit that aired on New Year’s Eve depicting God led away by police after being convicted of raping Mary.
“RTÉ recognizes that matters which can cause offense naturally differ from person to person, within comedy and satire in particular,” it said in a statement. “Having reviewed the feedback and complaints received up to this point, RTÉ wishes to apologize to those who were offended by the segment.”
According to reports, the segment, which was a part of the New Year’s Countdown Show, depicted a year-in-review news report in which former anchor Aengus MacGrianna announced that God had been incriminated for impregnating Mary without consent.
The Irish publication The Journal states that as she read the satirical news report, video footage depicted “a man dressed in white robes being led by gardaí (Irish police) from a court.”
“A shocking revelation this year,” MacGrianna stated in the skit, “God became the latest figure to be implicated in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal.”
“The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last 24 months suspended,” she quipped. “Following the news, movie producer Harvey Weinstein requested a retrial in Ireland.”
Catholics in the country appear to have been the most vocal opposition, calling the comedy skit “deeply offensive,” “outrageous,” and “blasphemous.”
“I am shocked that producer/editor of ‘NYE Countdown Show’ didn’t realize how deeply offensive was a mocking ‘news report’ accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment. This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced by all people of goodwill,” tweeted Eamon Martin of the Archdiocese of Armagh.
However, the group Atheist Ireland defended the segment as having right to air, even if it is offensive.
“Criticism or mockery of religious ideas is just as acceptable as criticism or mockery of secular ideas. People have rights. Their beliefs do not,” Michael Nugent stated, as reported by The Journal.
“Many people of goodwill find Bible stories about a God killing innocent people just as offensive as Archbishop Martin finds this comedy sketch. But we are not calling on RTÉ to remove discussions of the Bible from its programs or to remove criticism or mockery of atheistic ideas,” he said.
Nugent noted that blasphemy was decriminalized in Ireland in a 2018 referendum vote and applauded RTÉ for not removing the skit from its on-demand “catch-up” viewing service.
A spokesman for the Aontú Republican Party, however, opined that “apologizing for material while still making it available online feels like an empty gesture from senior management in RTÉ.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 teaches, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 likewise outlines, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The late British preacher J.C. Ryle once similarly exhorted, “We ought to feel compassion when we think of the wretched state of unconverted souls and the misery of all men and women who live and die without Christ. No poverty like this poverty! No disease like this disease! No slavery like this slavery! No death like this: death in idolatry, false religion, and sin!”
“Ask ourselves this: Where is the mind of Christ, if we do not feel for the lost? I lay it down boldly, as a great principle, that the Christianity which does not make a person feel for the state of unconverted people is not the Christianity which came down from Heaven hundreds of years ago and is embalmed in the New Testament. It is a mere empty name.”