Aidan Quinn as Episcopal priest with Garret Dillahunt as “Jesus”

A pro-family group has launched a protest campaign against a new NBC drama featuring a troubled, pill-popping Episcopal priest who is the father of a dysfunctional family.

“The Book of Daniel,” written by a homosexual, is being promoted as the only show on television in which Jesus appears as a recurring character and the only network prime-time drama series with a regular male “gay” character, a 23-year-old Republican son, says the American Family Association, which has an online petition.

Touted as the riskiest show of the year, it includes a wife who relies on mid-day martinis, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop’s daughter. At the office, the priest’s lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.

As WND reported earlier this month, the series debuts Jan. 6 with back-to-back episodes and will air regularly Friday nights at 9 p.m. The cast also includes Ellen Burstyn and Susanna Thompson. Comedienne Phyllis Diller plays a member of the congregation.

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The priest, Daniel Webster, played by veteran actor Aidan Quinn, regularly talks with a manifestation of Jesus, played by Garret Dillahunt.

The American Family Association says the people at NBC responsible for the program “consider it a good, religiously oriented show typical of Christian families.”

“Network hype” and mainstream media, AFA says, have called it “edgy,” “challenging” and “courageous.”

Last summer, the show’s writer, Jack Kenny, said at the Television Critics Association’s press tour he recognized “there are going to be people who have an issue with a gay man writing about Jesus.”

“I’m not making fun of Jesus,” he said. “I never want to poke fun at religion or at Jesus. These characters are very spiritual people. They believe in God, they believe in Christ as their savior, and I think that’s wonderful.”

Kenny described himself as being “in Catholic recovery,” with an interest in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation.

“I’m a spiritual person,” he said. “I don’t know specifically what’s going on up there. I think there must be something going on, whether it’s an energy we’re all connected to or an old white man with a beard and a robe.

Kenny said he does believe in Jesus, but explained, “I don’t necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him is true, but I read his teachings, and I think he was a great teacher and a wonderful philosopher. I think he had a great idea: ‘Love thy neighbor.’ There’s nothing wrong with that.”

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