NEW YORK - Conservative and Christian leaders accused Comedy Central yesterday of having a double standard in its depiction of religious satire as they launched an effort to dissuade advertisers from sponsoring a potential new animated series about Jesus.
The project, "JC," which would feature Jesus living in modern-day New York and coping with an indifferent God, is one of many ideas the network has in script development, and it may never get picked up as a series. But that hasn't stopped a new coalition of media watchdog groups, calling itself Citizens Against Religious Bigotry, from lambasting the cable channel for its programming.
"We know that they're jumping up and down with glee feeling that they're getting all sorts of publicity because of our efforts," said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center.
Bozell said the coalition sent letters to 250 major television advertisers asking them not to run commercials on the show, should it ever air.
In a conference call with reporters, the coalition's leaders noted that Comedy Central censored references to the prophet Muhammad in a recent episode of "South Park" after a radical Muslim Web site suggested the show's creators could be killed because of the depiction.
" 'JC' at this point is an idea and an idea only," said Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox.
On the conference call, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said an advertising boycott of the show was necessary to get through to the network.
"I don't want to ever see the Christian population get to the point where they have to mimic some segments in the radical Muslim community," he said.