BAI upholds complaints over RTÉ’s ‘offensive’ God sketch

BAI upholds complaints over RTÉ’s ‘offensive’ God sketch

Eight separate complaints against RTE’s New Year’s countdown programme were upheld by the Compliance Committee of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), July 7.

The programme featured a satirical news sketch by Waterford Whispers in which God is arrested for sex crimes, which complainants said mocked the Catholic Faith.

One complainant said she found the sketch “to be offensive in the extreme and it appeared to be an intentional and targeted insult directed at a group of people who hold Christian beliefs”.

The sketch concerned God being “the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals”.

The report showed a scene outside a courthouse of a Garda manhandling a handcuffed person, dressed to appear as God, into a police van, while he shouts, “that was two thousand years ago”.

The news reader then says: “The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle Eastern migrant, allegedly impregnating her against her will, before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last twenty-four months suspended.”

Directly following the sketch, an image of Harvey Weinstein was shown on screen.

The complainant noted the fact the sketch was pre-recorded and commissioned in advance, which means this could not have been a mistake on the night.

The viewer alleged a former RTÉ news reader lent credence to it by using words like “impregnating against her will” and “young migrant girl”.

The complainant said if this had targeted another group in society like Muslim, Jewish or members of the Traveller and LGBT communities, there would have been a “stampede to the airwaves to condemn it”.

Considering the complaint, the BAI’s compliance committee concluded the segment did not respect general community standards.

It said the likely offence caused to the audience was not justified for creative, editorial or any other reasons.