By Gudrun Schultz

NEW YORK, New York, September 20, 2006 ( – NBC television has decided to air a mock crucifixion staged by pop star Madonna during November programming, despite the strenuous objections of international religious leaders to a performance condemned as blasphemous.

The stunt is a centerpiece of Madonna’s international “Confessions” tour, with the performer appearing on stage strapped to a 20-foot mirrored cross, wearing a crown of thorns. The stunt is part of her on-stage rendition of Live to Tell, an account of the trauma of domestic abuse.

Regardless of the context, however, religious leaders have condemned the use of the central and most revered image of Christianity to illustrate a point in a rock concert, particularly from a pop star with such an outrageous performance history as Madonna, as deeply offensive to Christians.

NBC entertainment president Kevin Reilly accepted the stunt after previewing the production.

“We viewed it,” he told Access Hollywood, “and didn’t see it as being inappropriate.”Â

During recent performances in Rome and Russia, leaders in the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church condemned Madonna’s “crucifixion” imagery as blasphemous.

“To crucify yourself in the city of the pope and the martyrs is an act of open hostility. It’s a scandal created on purpose by astute merchants to attract publicity,” said Cardinal Ersilio Tonino, shortly before Madonna’s Rome performance. “This concert is a blasphemous challenge to the faith and a profanation of the cross.”Â

Cardinal Tonino said the pop star’s actions warranted excommunication—Madonna is a non-practicing Roman Catholic.

A spokesman for the Moscow patriarch said, “The US singer Madonna exploits Christian symbols—the cross, rosary beads and the crucifix—and tries to equate human passions, including her own personal passions, with something sacred,” reported Agence France-Presse.

Focus on the Family condemned NBC’s decision to run the show, saying, “mocking the crucifixion of Christ for the sake of controversy-driven publicity and ratings is offensive to Christians all around the world.”

The pro-family organization is asking concerned individuals to contact Kevin Reilly and express their concerns:

E-mail: [email protected]

Phone: (818) 840-6046 or (818) 840-6022

See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

Cardinal Calls for Madonna’s Excommunication: Pop Star’s Mock Crucifixion an “Open Act of Hostility”