INDIANA Group Fights 'Corpus Christi'

Thursday, July 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) _ A group that includes 21 state lawmakers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking to block performances of a college play featuring a gay Christ-like character.

The lawsuit contends that the play, ``Corpus Christi,'' attacks religion and taxpayer money should not subsidize its production at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The play features a character named Joshua who is growing up gay in modern-day Texas. The story parallels parts of the Gospels, and some of the 12 other male characters bear the names of Christ's disciples.

The performances are scheduled Aug. 10-11.

``This is not just an innocuous little play,'' plaintiffs' attorney John Price said. ``It's a full-blown, unmitigated attack on Christianity and its founders.''

The school does not intend to cancel the production, school attorney Anthony Benton said. Suspending the play would be an infringement of First Amendment rights to free speech and academic freedom, he said.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include 11 Allen County residents and 21 state lawmakers, all but one of them Republicans.

``Corpus Christi'' was written by Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally. It debuted off-Broadway in 1998 at the Manhattan Theatre Club, which held performances under tight security because of bomb threats.