Pop legend Elton John is making waves again -- this time over remarks he made in a magazine interview, saying that Jesus Christ was a "super-intelligent gay man," causing fury among conservative Christians.
In an interview with U.S. magazine, Parade, the 62-year-old musician said, "I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.
"On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East - you're as good as dead."
The remarks are provoking more ire within Christian groups and denominations amid debate over consecrating gay members of the clergy in the U.S., a topic so sensitive that bishops are considering breaking away from the Anglican church in the U.S. over the matter.
On the Web site of the conservative Catholic League movement the response to Elton John's comments was swift and damning:
"Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say He was 'super-intelligent' is to compare the Son of God to a successful game-show contestant" – was the response from the Catholic League president, Bill Donohue. "More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label Him a sexual deviant. But what else would we expect from a man who previously said, 'From my point of view, I would ban religion completely.'"
While the comments will certainly ignite further debate over homosexuality and the church, some gay Christian campaigners believe it might detract from the issue, causing more harm than good:
"I don't think that comments like this are particularly helpful," Reverend Sharon Ferguson from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement told ABC News.
"He challenged our understanding of loving one another in his relationship with his disciples and friends, so we should be taking on board the total inclusivity of Christ when it comes to the notion of sexual identity and orientation but that does not mean that we should make any assumptions about Christ's sexual activity or lack of it."
Whatever the fallout, it puts the Rocket Man firmly in the eye of a storm of controversy, once again. The magazine is out on newsstands Saturday.