Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said the BBC programme, The Mystery of Mary Magdalene , presented by Melvyn Bragg would be hugely offensive to devout Christians because it amounted to the sexualisation of Christ .
He said it was all the more upsetting because it is being screened at midday on Good Friday, the moment the Bible says Jesus was put on the cross.
Lord Bragg, who describes himself as no longer a believer , argues that Mary's close relationship with Jesus was effectively airbrushed out of the accepted Biblical account by misogynist Romans. He points to a series of ancient writings
known as the Gnostic Gospels which were not included in the agreed list of books which became the New Testament. They include references to Mary being kissed on the mouth by Jesus, being his favourite and even, as one passage suggests, his wife.
Nazir-Ali accused the BBC of deliberately causing offense to Christians. He said:
This is going out at 12 o'clock on Good Friday which is exactly the time that Christians are thinking about Christ on the cross, this highly provocative stuff that really encourages a sexualisation of Christ with references to him being kissed on the
mouth by Mary Magdalene and it refers to her being his wife.
I am concerned about the misuses of very obscure Gnostic gospels to impugne the integrity of the Bible.
It is highly provocative in terms of its content for Christians on Good Friday and it attempts to sexualize Christ in the most offensive way.
The campaign group Christian Concern has emailed its supporters urging them to complain to the BBC. Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, said:
Noon Good Friday is the precise time Christians are remembering Jesus' crucifixion. To air a programme which questions the purity of Christ is at best insensitive and at worst offensive.
Who is making such bewildering decisions in the BBC's religious programming department?
No doubt Andrea Williams is well aware that the head of BBC religious programming is actually a muslim.