Numerous petitions have appeared on Change.org, urging Netflix to pull "The First Temptation of Christ” following its debut earlier this month.
Each one comes with sizeable support, some racking up nearly 2 million signatures.
The biblical spoof created by the Brazilian YouTube comedy group Porta dos Fundos and starring comedians Gregorio Duvivier, Antonio Tabet and Fabio Porchat, imagines Jesus returning home for his 30th birthday with a big surprise for his family: His close friend Orlando, who appears to be gay, according to Variety. In addition, the film portrays God as being into Mary, Jesus' mother. In the film, Mary was caught smoking a joint, according to Variety.
“Porta dos Fundos values artistic freedom and humor through satire on the most diverse cultural themes of our society and believes that freedom of expression is an essential construction for a democratic country," Porta dos Fundos told FOX Business. Netflix declined to comment.
"Jesus, who's hitting the big 3-0, brings a surprise guest to meet the family. A Christmas special so wrong, it must be from the comedians Porta dos Fundos."
What inflamed protesters the most was the insinuation that Jesus is gay, which the comedians behind the project say is just that, an insinuation.
“We play at insinuating that Jesus has a new friend, and probably this new friend is gay, but they have just been having fun and a very good time in the desert for 40 days," Porta dos Fundos co-founder Fábio Porchat told Variety on Monday. The timetable appears to be a reference to Christian scripture, which describes Christ being tempted by Satan after spending 40 days fasting in the wilderness.
The title, meanwhile, is reminiscent of the 1998 movie, "The Last Temptation of Christ," which drew criticism from Christian groups for depicting a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
One petition that has garnered support from over 1.8 million people is asking for the film's removal from Netflix and an apology from Porta dos Fundos.
“In favor of the removal of the film from the Netflix catalog and for the 'Porta dos Fundos' to be held responsible for the crime of villainous faith,” the petition reads. “We also want a public retraction, as they have seriously offended Christians.”
A separate petition, which calls the 45-minute short film "blasphemous," has already garnered over 26,000 signatures of support.
“It is shocking to discover that Netflix have zero respect or consideration for those of the Christian faith regarding their decision to add 'The First Temptation of Christ' to their growing catalog of shows,” the petition reads.
The film quickly became a topic of conversation across Twitter, with users further lambasting the comedy special.
"Today my @NetflixUK subscription has been canceled in protest of a 'Christmas special' that is extremely offensive to the values, principles and Christian faith. 'The First Temptation of Christ' is not a comedy show, but a cowardly and direct attack on all who profess this faith," one user wrote.
The stars behind the film pushed back, however, calling the criticism "homophobic," Variety reported.
“They [Netflix] haven’t said anything to us like, ‘Maybe we should stop making the special available.’ They support freedom of speech,” Porchat told the outlet. “If anybody should be angry with us, it should be the gay community because a gay character turns out to be the Devil. But the gay community loves us!”