BBC Radio 4 was to broadcast a controversial Easter message in which the founder of PinkNews compares the crucifixion of Christ to the treatment of gay people.

Benjamin Cohen was set to appear on Radio 4's Lent series with a message about Jesus and abandonment.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph before the show, Cohen, who is openly gay, outlined his plans for the broadcast.

He wrote: "The story of Jesus is one that is inextricably tied up with the notion of him being an outcast and being both abandoned and rejected by his own people, the Jews.

"Jesus was abandoned because of something he said he couldn't help, being born the son of God, the messianic figure for the redemption of the Jewish people and ultimately of mankind. Yet he was persecuted for it, treated as a traitor and ultimately executed.

"The fear of abandonment, for something that one cannot help is probably something that everyone feels as some point in their life, even if only for a split for a split second.

"However, for me, brought up like Jesus in the Orthodox Jewish faith, it was a fear that permeated my school days as I came to terms with the realisation that there was something about me that I couldn't help, something that I was born with, that could lead me to be rejected by my family and by my faith, that I am gay."

Cohen founded PinkNews in 2005 and it is now the largest LGBT news website in Europe.

He explained that he tried to ignore his sexuality and had a girlfriend, adding that if there were a cure for homosexuality he would have taken it.


"As it happens, I eventually realised that it wasn't fair on myself to try to ignore my feelings and I did come out, and I wasn't rejected. I come from a tolerant family who were more surprised that my partner wasn't a Jew than that he was another man," he wrote.

"In my view, religion should be about bringing families together, not tearing them apart. Families and faiths should accommodate gay people not rejecting them or trying to paint them as deviants."

But his message has been criticised by Christian Concern. Director Andrea Williams told the Telegraph: "To link this experience to that of Christ is to misunderstand the biggest event in history. It is blasphemous.

"To say that lack of acceptance of homosexual practice which we are told to flee in the Bible equates with the experience and suffering of Christ is to have misunderstood his message.

"Jesus loves everyone but his message to the homosexual community is to turn away from their previous path.

"The BBC panders to a liberal, politically correct agenda and fails to take the opportunity to explore and educate its listeners about the true meaning of Lent and Easter."

The BBC said: "The theme of this year's Lent Talks is abandonment and features six well-known figures from public life, arts and religion."