RIO DE JANEIRO (ChurchMilitant.com) - Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday decided that free speech includes the blasphemous defamation of the name of Jesus in a movie portraying the Son of God as having a homosexual relationship with the devil.
In the name of art, Netflix will be airing The First Temptation of Christ, produced by the Brazilian comedy production company Porta dos Fundos.
The Supreme Court overturned a lower court judge's ruling from Tuesday that ordered Netflix to remove the controversial Brazilian "comedy," despite international outcry and a petition signed by over 2 million people demanding its removal. As of Saturday, it had garnered over 2,366,700 signatures.
The lower court had ruled that the film be taken down because it did "irreparable damage" to the nation's Christians.
Then came the predictable pushback.
"We strongly support artistic expression and we will fight to defend this important principle, which is the heart of great stories," a Netflix spokesman stated.
Porta dos Fundos said in a prepared statement that it "opposed any act of censorship, violence, illegality, authoritarianism."
The presiding Supreme Court Justice, José Antonio Dias Toffoli, had this to say about the ruling overturning the lower court's ban: "One cannot suppose that a humorous satire has the ability to weaken the values of the Christian faith, whose existence is traced back more than 2,000 years, and which is the belief of the majority of Brazilian citizens."
This was in response to the lower court's judge, Benedicto Abicair, concluding that keeping the film online was "more likely to cause grave and irreparable damage" than removing it from the public domain and that his ruling would benefit Brazil's "majority Christian" society.
Many Brazilians had celebrated the lower court's ban before the Supreme Court got involved. The earlier ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Brazilian Christian organization Centro Dom Bosco, which had denounced the film as blasphemous.
David Miranda, an openly gay federal lawmaker, called the lower court's ruling an attack on democracy. "We can't forget that this attack is rooted in homophobia," he said in a text message. "We'll resist."
As a result of the latest ruling, which assures the continued airing of the blasphemous film, thousands of Brazilian Christians have canceled their subscriptions to Netflix in protest. Even Muslims in Brazil have decided to sue the producers of the blasphemous film.
This latest clash of culture is yet another flash point in Brazil's culture wars. Brazil is home to more Catholics than any other country in the world. It also has a fast-growing conservative evangelical population that has gained more political power in recent years, and was instrumental in electing conservative President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018. Yet the leftist secular progressive movement, as is the case with all (formerly) Christian nations, is well funded and strategically placed within the echelons of society.
Some see the title of the film as a deliberate take-off on the 1988 Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ, which depicted another blasphemy: a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
This latest spoof on the sacred name of Jesus, aired by Netflix and confirmed by Brazil's highest court, is just the latest high-profile attack on Christ in contemporary times. In the 21st century, the war on Mary's offspring (Gen 3:15) continues.