A planned play at Tarleton State University that portrays a gay Jesus has raised emotions in Stephenville to the point where a Christian radio show was jammed with protest calls and some student actors have been pressured to quit.
John Jordan Otte, the student who is directing Corpus Christi, said he understood that the play would likely create controversy, but he never imagined this level of anxiety. He said he wants to convey the turmoil that gay Christians sometimes experience and create a sense of acceptance, tolerance and unconditional love.
Corpus Christi will be among four plays performed Saturday at Tarleton in Stephenville. The performances are part of a class project, and only 90 seats are available.
"We all share this world," said Otte, who is gay. "We're no different. Everything Christ has said applies to us as well."
To many in the community, the depiction of a gay Jesus who performs a marriage ceremony for two of the apostles is offensive, especially on the weekend before Easter. Letters have been written to the local newspaper, and some alumni have called Tarleton to express their opposition.
"This is a conservative community," said Carroll Cawyer, a Stephenville man active in conservative groups. "It's just sticking a thumb in the eye of the standards of this community. That's what a lot of people are upset about."
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