NEW YORK (AP) — A coalition of religious and conservative leaders is trying to stop a proposed Comedy Central cartoon that puts Jesus Christ in a modern-day context — before it even gets started.

The newly formed Citizens Against Religious Bigotry said June 3 that it believes the “JC” series would be offensive. They accuse Comedy Central of a double standard in mocking Christian figures and beliefs while recently refusing to let “South Park” depict the Prophet Muhammad for fear of offending Muslims.
“You don't have to be a Christian to be offended by this,” said Brent Bozell, head of the watchdog Media Research Center.

Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom Inc., said last month that “JC” is one of two dozen series it has in development. The concept is to depict Christ as a “regular guy” who moves to New York to “escape his father's enormous shadow.”

Network spokesman Tony Fox noted that “JC” is nothing more than an idea now, without even a completed script. In TV, only a minority of projects in development ever make it on the air.

Fox said the groups should save their energy for when a decision is made about whether the series will ever be completed.

Aside from Bozell's group, the coalition also includes the Catholic League, the Parents Television Council and talk show host Michael Medved. They said the coalition had written to 250 Comedy Central advertisers to alert them to the show and already had 93,000 petition signatures against it.

Comedy Central was the target of an Internet threat this spring from a Muslim group for a “South Park” episode that supposedly showed Muhammad in a bear costume. Like other media organizations, it resists showing a depiction of Muhammad because many Muslims consider a physical description of the prophet to be blasphemous.

Such depictions of Muhammad in other media have resulted in death threats by fundamentalist Muslims against the purveyors.

“Does that indicate that Christians then are punished because they aren't crazy?” Medved asked, “that they get punished because their religion does not encourage threats of violence?”