What's the Problem With Celebrity Crucifixions?

Now that so much ink has been spilled over Madonna’s foreign adoption, some folks have all but forgotten about the on-going debate over whether the Material Star should be permitted to crucify herself on NBC.  At issue is a scene in Madonna’s concert in which she’s hung on a cross wearing a crown of thorns while she belts out “Live to Tell.”

Madonna and her representatives claim the scene is not disrespectful to the Christian church.  In fact, the Associated Press reported that the singer who likes to shock said the performance is a “plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole.  I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today He would be doing the same thing.”

Message to Madonna:  Christians do believe that Jesus is alive today—alive and well and living in heaven and in the hearts of all believers.  Upset by Madonna’s New Age hypocrisy, a number of church-goers and members of the clergy managed to wage a successful e-mail protest campaign, flooding NBC with electronic objections to Madonna’s shameless attack on the Christian faith.

Now, there are some who say that the wise thing for Christians to do is to simply ignore Madonna’s latest tirade.  They say that, by drawing attention to Madonna’s act, the American Family Association and other family-oriented and faith-based groups could simply be boosting Madonna’s ratings.  Also, liberal critics say that, in a pluralistic society, people should be free to view whatever they want on television—even if it involves a pop star desecrating an image considered to be sacred by Christians.  According to this line of thought, the First Amendment guarantees the right to free expression—even if the expression is highly offensive to some people.  And who is the American Family Association to judge what should and should not be shown on television?

But this type of reasoning fails to recognize the fact that there are certain lines that should not be crossed—especially in a medium that is freely accessible to children.  What if Madonna had decided to burn a model of Mohammed in effigy during her concert?  Or re-enact the killing of the courageous Holocaust victim Anne Frank?  Or take a rifle and shooting a statue of Buddha?  

I also have to wonder what some free speech enthusiasts would think if NBC aired footage of a gay activist being hanged?  Or an abortionist being put to death in an electric chair?

It seems in our society today that it is perfectly acceptable among the media elites to “Christian-bash.”  Christians can be routinely mocked for their faith and their images can be degraded.    So-called artists routinely find ways to depict Jesus and His mother in some of the vilest ways possible—soaked in urine, in sexual poses, and the like.   If we do, indeed, live in a pluralistic society, shouldn’t religious imagery from all faiths be treated with respect?  How can the media show respect for one faith and contempt for another?

According to the Christian faith, anyone who follows Jesus may face persecution.  But to be a persecutor undermines one’s humanity and leads to a society in which life seems brutish and short.

A little more compassion from media executives for people of the Christian persuasion will go a long way toward healing the wounds that divide America.  

Madonna has the free will to do whatever she wants onstage—but that doesn’t mean that the networks have any obligation to air it—especially when it represents a blatant form of hate speech.