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Mehdi Dehbi as al-Masih in Netflix's 'The Messiah.'YouTube screenshot

December 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Netflix may be setting itself up for yet another religious-tinged controversy with the unveiling of Messiah, an upcoming original series about a mysterious figure who emerges in the modern day, appearing to herald the Second Coming.

Messiah follows a man known only as al-Masih, who travels the earth performing apparent miracles and inspiring a movement of followers for an as-yet-unrevealed purpose, and a tenacious CIA agent’s attempts to expose him as a fraud.

The show will “examine the tenuous relationship between people and politics in the age of social media by telling al-Masih's story through the eyes of both his followers and his foes,” Refinery29’s Ineye Komonibo writes. But it also remains to be seen whether the plot casts religious devotion in a positive or negative light.

“Yes it's provocative – the show is provocative. But provocative isn't offensive,” creator Michael Petroni insisted in comments to AFP Network. He said the show “doesn’t set out to offend anyone,” but is “hoping for debate” about its themes.

A petition with more than 3,700 signatures accuses the show of engaging in “anti-Islamic propaganda” due to the name “al-Masih” belonging to a false prophet Islamic theology, with the implication being that the show is about an Islamic antichrist-type figure marching thousands of Palestinians into Israel. Netflix responded by stressing while the character may be referred to as “al-Masih,” that isn't meant to be his true name.

The show is also being produced by married production duo Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who are known for pro-faith and pro-family content

Even so, concerns will likely linger due to Netflix’s broader track record of far-left and anti-faith programming, including a film denigrating Pope Benedict, a Roe v. Wade documentary that pro-life interview subjects say misrepresented them, and various cartoons promoting abortion, LGBT messages, and sexual themes involving children. The company also famously took a stand this year against a Georgia law banning abortions on most babies with beating hearts.

Most recently, Netflix came under fire for running a Brazilian “Christmas comedy special” depicting Jesus Christ as a closeted homosexual.