A comedy sketch depicting God as a rapist, aired during a New Year’s Eve countdown programme by Ireland’s national broadcaster, has sparked a furious backlash from the country’s catholic bishops.
The mock news report was broadcast on RTÉ as viewers across locked-down Ireland tuned into the state television station to finally bid farewell to 2020. In the controversial clip an aged man in a white robe, with white hair and a long white beard, is seen being dragged away from a courthouse and into a police vehicle by a member of the Irish police.
“In another shocking revelation this year, God became the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals,” a newsreader explains in a voiceover.
WTF @rte Shocking,not even remotely funny, #NewYearsEve#fools#rte#Shamblespic.twitter.com/PhbfznAp1v
The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young middle-eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will.
“He was sentenced to two years in prison with the last 24 months suspended,” the voiceover added, poking fun at Ireland’s notoriously lax sentencing laws.
The role of the newsreader was played by veteran broadcaster Aengus Mac Grianna, who worked on RTÉ’s news coverage for many years. The sketch was the work of the satirical news outlet Waterford Whispers News, which was hired by RTÉ to produce content for the New Year’s Eve show.
The sketch provoked a furious reaction from the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, who blasted the state TV outlet for broadcasting the joke.
“I am shocked that producer/editor of NYE Countdown Show didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking news report accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment,” Archbishop Martin said.
This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced by all people of goodwill.
“To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God and Our Blessed Mother Mary during the Christmas season is insulting to all Catholics and Christians,” he added.
2. To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God & Our Blessed Mother Mary during the Christmas season on ‘NYE Countdown Show’ on @RTE, @RTEOne & on Eve of the Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God is insulting to all Catholics and Christians. @deeforbes_dee
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell, also condemned RTÉ, accusing it of “mocking the divine” and of “trivialising rape victims.”
Many Twitter users were quick to side with the church leaders, accusing RTÉ of peddling “offensive rubbish,” while also calling for people to stop paying the tv licence fee that funds the national broadcaster.
“Truly appalling. The absolute state of our public broadcaster,” one person said. “All Catholics should stop paying their TV license fee,” another added.
The outrage was far from confined to the Catholic church as many in the political sphere also expressed their anger at the broadcast.
Junior Minister for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan blasted the sketch for making light of rape. “Satire is an important part of free speech, but I am very concerned about flippant jokes being made about a topic as serious as rape,” she told the Irish Daily Mail.
It truly was a New Year’s Eve to forget for RTÉ as the God sketch wasn’t the only controversy that befell the programme. Amazingly, the New Year countdown show managed to miss the countdown to 2021 as studio guests were busy chatting about their heroes of 2020. The programme then cut to a 30 second countdown after 2021 had already arrived. Needless to say, many viewers were not happy.
The incident in question pic.twitter.com/nCZlwUhe9F
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