Actor Jim Caviezel portraying Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ."

An American parody magazine famous for making fun of virtually any and all subjects is coming under fire for suggesting Jesus of Nazareth was a male prostitute who “turned tricks for money” in his early years.

With a Jerusalem dateline, the Onion reported a “stunning discovery” by archaeologists, reporting “the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered Monday what they believe to be the site where, in the years before he began his itinerant preaching, a desperate, cash-strapped Christ briefly turned tricks for money.”

The fictitious report states:

Excavators working in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem unveiled fragments of several earthenware vessels, an 18-seat public latrine hewn from stone and terra cotta piping dating to Jesus’ era, along with a curbed Roman road that served as a main artery of ancient Judea, where the fledgling, hard-up prophet is believed to have cruised for johns passing by on donkeys, wagons, and chariots.

“It’s an incredible find, and one that confirms many of our long-held theories about Christ’s so-called lost years,” said the dig’s head archaeologist, Aviram Oshri, who went on to note that while Christ’s hooking is not referenced in the New Testament, suggestions that he resorted to the flesh trade abound in historical records of the period. “This intersection is an exact match for the area described in ancient texts, where Jesus is said to have flagged down lonely men traveling from Yafa and offered his wares in public commodes.”

“This would have been before Christ had many followers, of course,” Oshri added. “Some of his earliest followers were clients, actually.”

The young Christ, like many adrift Hebrew males, is believed to have turned to sex work around 19 A.D. as a coping mechanism during a bout of homelessness. Though implicitly prohibited by Jewish law, prostitution was prevalent in ancient Judea, with sex workers trading their services for cloth, fowl, wine, and small coins, a transaction that Christ is believed to have executed hundreds of times during a short period of time in his 20s. …

“We’ve made key finds in this area since the second temple period, but never this early, which is why finding the area where a luckless vagrant Jesus probably trolled for sex is such a remarkable discovery,” Osrhi said, adding that Christ’s “Hidden Years”—the period from his appearance at the temple as a 12-year-old boy and his subsequent reappearance as a 30-year-old spiritual leader at his baptism—have long been shrouded in mystery due to lack of archaeological evidence substantiating the rumors of a Judean red light district. “Unraveling the mystery of Christ’s formative years is exhilarating work that sheds light on him not just as a prophet, but as a person. A very confused person.”

“And if some of the lewd messages scrawled on the walls of this public commode are to be believed, a quite popular person as well,” Osrhi added.

The piece has outraged Dylan Skriloff, a newspaper editor with the Rockland County Times in Nanuet, N.Y.

“I have long been a fan of the Onion, but I will no longer read it. That decision is final,” Skriloff, told WND.

New York journalist Dylan Skriloff

“There is no excuse for outright defecating on the religion of the majority of Americans. Teasing and provoking is one thing, but to hideously slander God as they did in this piece is unfathomable,” he continued.

“Even though the Onion has clearly pushed a liberal slant, they have also been equal-opportunity offenders. This can no longer be said as they would never defame another religious figure the way they have Christ. The mortal souls of the editors who have approved this bit are surely endangered.”

Stephen Hanley of Woodbury, N.Y., said, “I’m not religious at all but this is [bleeping] lame. If it was funny I’d simply laugh but it was boring and an obvious attempt to be controversial and get attention. Just stick to being funny, a–wipes.”

And Jacob Elwood thinks the magazine could actually be in jeopardy with this article, as he says, “Onion – meet Shark. Now jump!”

Other reaction online includes:

  • “Too bad … they got him mixed up with Muhammad.”
  • “Would they make this up about Muhammad? Or would they be afraid to?”
  • “It’s all about ‘Let’s see what’s the most obnoxious offensive thing we can throw out there to attack Republicans / Christians, and still be labeled as humor?’ I’m shocked they didn’t just go full bore and call Jesus a pedophile. These guys turned the corner from humor to pushing agendas for the left. I’m not so sure on their past comments but this one takes the cake.”
  • “They used to be pretty funny, but when it’s obvious when satire has a constant slant. They pick the Christians because they also know we’re taught to be peaceful about getting slapped in the face (i.e. the famous ‘turn the other cheek’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount). In other words, we’re easy targets. They wouldn’t ever admit it but they know they’d be filling their diapers if they printed something about the boy-loving fake prophet Muhammad.”

The Onion has not responded to a request for comment.

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