PARIS, December 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One day before the opening night of what has been called a “blasphemous” play, “Golgota Picnic”, a Paris judge has refused to sign an interim ruling prohibiting the opening of the show. Judge Magali Bouvier decided not to “destroy a work of art” which, she writes, will only be seen by a few hundred spectators at the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” on the Parisian Champs-Elysées, regardless of its offensive content and messages of hate against all Christians.

An emergency proceeding was introduced on these grounds a few weeks ago by the French and Christian rights defense group, AGRIF (Alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne). In French law, emergency proceedings are intended to put a stop to situations which “disrupt the public order”.

AGRIF’s counsel argued that the showing of “Golgota Picnic” would do that on several counts. The play’s Hispano-Argentian author, Rodrigo Garcia, expresses hatred towards Christ throughout the play, accusing centuries of Christian art of being directly responsible for sex abuse of minors by priests and religious, violence, and more generally all that is wrong with the world. Christ Himself is portrayed as a selfish, antisocial fraud and covered with verbal abuse calling him a “devil whore” or the “messiah of AIDS”.

The play visually attacks Christians’ central, treasured beliefs about all things related to the Crucifixion. Hundreds of bread burgers cover the scene in a parody of the Multiplication of the Loaves; the actors, five male, one female, repeatedly mock the Crucifixion while endlessly reciting rambling prose, then sing and dance the last words of Christ to strident guitar music.

The DVD of the play, produced by the Theatre’s counsel, has been found to contain more disturbing elements than press reports from Spain, where the play showed at the beginning of the year, had indicated. “Crucifixion” scenes were presented lascivious or grotesque, a “Pieta” scene showed an actress, completely nude, moving sensuously on a male actor’s lap and the “making” of the Shroud received similar sexual treatment.

Another scene showed three actors, two male and one female, scantily covered and soaked with blue and red paint to evoke classical paintings of Golgotha, entwining in sexual positions. After this they all undressed completely, facing the public or moving about the stage for at least five minutes.

This was not a problem, judge Bouvier ruled today, as the lighting was “dimmed” during the scene (in fact, during part of that scene the stage-lighting was a strong red, and normal the rest of the time). The AGRIF, one of whose objects is to combat pornography and to protect the dignity of women and children, argued that this scene, among several others, constitutes “sexual exhibition” which is prohibited by law, and should at the very least justify banning “Golgota Picnic” from being shown to minors under eighteen.

French law does not prohibit blasphemy, but it does affirm all believers’ right to freedom of religion and to the respect of their beliefs. AGRIF argued that “Golgota Picnic” violently disregards this right and adds incitement to hate against Christians by its repeated desecrations of Christian beliefs and its central figure Jesus Christ. Emphasizing that these actions are subject to prosecution under the law, the AGRIF asked that the most objectionable passages of the show be scrapped and that its name, which the group called an insult to believing Christians, be replaced by a less provocative title.

All the demands of the AGRIF were rejected by judge Magali Bouvier, who openly disregarded and misrepresented the unanimous and firm reactions of the French episcopate against “Golgota Picnic.”  Bouvier quoted admiring lines from the progressive Catholic newspaper La Croix to justify Rodrigo Garcia’s artistic portrayal of his “doubts and interrogations” about the God he feared as a young boy in Argentina.

The judge went on to assess the AGRIF for court costs of 3,500 euro (over 4,600 USD) legal expenses incurred by the “Théâtre du Rond-Point” for its defense.

Last week’s hearing took place in judges’ chambers at the top of the “Caesar Tower” in the Conciergerie facing the Seine in the heart of Paris. The tower is one of the main remnants of the medieval palace where French kings lived from the 11th-15th century, after which the buildings would serve as the Parliament of Paris, the prison where Marie-Antoinette was kept until her execution, and, now, as “Palace of Justice” sheltering all Parisian judiciary courts as well as the equivalent of the Highest Court of Appeal. Ironically, upon entering this chamber the first thing that visitors see is a life-size reproduction of the “Retable of the Parliament of Paris”, an impressive 15th-century rendering of the Crucifixion.

This week several events were set to mark the “premiere” of Golgota Picnic.

In an unprecedented move, the archbishop of Paris, cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has called “all those who are willing” to participate in a vigil in his cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris after the Mass of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal referred to the play that “insults Christ on the Cross”, and called Catholics to participate in a “meditation of the Passion of Christ and the veneration of the Holy Crown of Thorns”. The relic is usually only shown to the faithful on Fridays in Lent and on First Fridays during the year.

Some have speculated that the special vigil purpose is to undermine or take attention away from the emphatic public protests against the play, which will be taking place from the 8th through the 17th December, each time “Golgota Picnic” will be shown in the Théâtre du Rond-Point. Several groups are calling on Parisians to participate in these peaceful, prayerful demonstrations as they already did in recent protests against “On the Concept of the Face of Christ”, another “blasphemous” play which some bishops excused on the grounds that they found it “thought-provoking”.