Florida College Comes Underfire for Portraying a Gay Christ

Friday, March 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -Several state lawmakers threatened to cut state funding of Florida Atlantic University programs because its theater department is staging a play featuring a gay Christ character.

Corpus Christi, which opened Wednesday at FAU, chronicles a Christlike character named Joshua who is growing up gay in modern-day Texas. The story parallels parts of the Gospels.

A kiss between Joshua and a character named Judas is similar to the kiss the biblical Judas used to identify Jesus to the Romans.

``For anyone who's a Christian, it's very offensive,'' said state Sen. Debby Sanderson, whose district includes Florida Atlantic.

School officials said they would allow the play to finish this weekend's run.

``It's a matter of academic freedom,'' university spokeswoman Lynn Laurenti said. She said top administrators did not know of the play's content until this week.

Sanderson and other senators said Thursday they would read the play and then decide what action, if any, to take. Last year, the school received $112 million from the state.

Corpus Christi, written by Terrence McNally, debuted on Broadway in 1998. It was met with fierce protests from Roman Catholic groups.