The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has upheld eight complaints against RTÉ over a sketch which portrayed God as a rapist during its New Year’s Eve countdown programme.
Complainants said that the public broadcaster would not mock the Muslim or Jewish faiths in the way it did the Catholic faith.
The sketch, described previously as being “deeply unfunny”, was presented as a mock news report by former RTÉ news reader Aengus Mac Grianna, who described God as “the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals”.
“The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle-Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last 24 months suspended,” the mock report said.
Mr Mac Grianna later apologised for his part in the sketch.
The BAI published a summary of complaints made about the piece.
They said that one complainant stated “that if this had targeted another group in society like black, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu people or members of the Traveller and LGBT communities, there would have been a stampede to the airwaves to condemn it.”
Another complaint said the sketch was “offensive in the extreme” and was designed to be insulting to “people who hold Christian beliefs”. RTÉ was also accused of broadcasting a piece which “stirred up hatred” against the Catholic religion”.
Another person said the show had sought to portrayed Christianity as “endorsing the subjection and brutal rape of women”.
“The complainant states that portraying the act of rape as a comedy act is a crime against every woman: it humiliates, disrespects and discredits their testimony; it trivialises the crime of rape and shames the victim into silence; and it prejudices respect for human dignity and stigmatises rape victims,” the BAI report said.
The BAI’s compliance committee upheld the eight complaints, ruling that the offence caused to the audience was not justified for creative, editorial or any other reasons. It also found that the segment did not respect general community standards.
The ‘God rape’ sketch led to almost 5,000 complaints, including 1,250 calls to the station last January. Eamon Martin, the Catholic primate of Ireland described it as “blasphemous” and “deeply offensive”.
RTÉ apologised for the sketch in January after a barrage of complaints and later removed the offending piece from its online Player.