A political cartoon depicting an AFL player on the cross has drawn anger from Wagga’s Christian community, with many labelling it as blasphemy.
The “Pope’s View” cartoon, which appeared in the Easter Saturday edition of the Weekend Advertiser, featured an image of Adam Goodes on the cross and several AFL players being sealed in a tomb under the heading “Easter spirit...”.
Among those incensed by the cartoon was Diana Shield, who said it upset everyone at the weekly “prayers in the park” meeting on Monday.
“We were all shocked and horrified,” Ms Shield said.
“To put ‘Easter spirit’ at the top of an image that is the very opposite of what the Son of God did… He died for our sins and it’s mocking it, it’s blasphemy. The cross is a symbol of victory, not one to be used lightly.”
There was a double standard at play, Ms Shield said, when racism was not tolerated but blasphemy was.
“If somebody drew a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on a cross there would be death and chaos,” she said. “This is disrespectful to all believers.”
On January 8, 2015, masked gunmen killed 11 people when they stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.
Fairfax Media cartoonist David Pope, who drew the Easter cartoon, said he had never intended to denigrate anyone’s faith or religion when he put pen to paper.
“It’s not a commentary on Christianity, I was using the story and images from the culture as a metaphor to talk about the hot issue of racism in football,” Mr Pope said.
“Some people feel symbols in religion are beyond cultural use and I think it would impoverish culture if we couldn’t draw upon them when they’re such a big part of our culture.
“Blasphemy is such a strange thing to hurl as an accusation, an old-fashioned idea that faith is such a fragile thing that needs to be protected in that way.”
Catholic priest Brendan Lee said he could see why some people were offended, but he wasn’t personally upset by the cartoon.
“As Christians we see the crucifixion as a ‘no-go zone’ because it’s such a central part of our faith,” Father Lee said. “Satire has to be allowed a longer leash to do its job, I think it may have gone a bit too far, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.”