In a surprise move a Judge in California has issued a warrant for the arrest of Jesus Christ. “I am convinced that there is sufficient evidence for this individual to be arrested and brought before this court on charges of vagrancy, corrupting the morals of minors and possibly even child abuse,” Judge Franklin E Bertiss told reporters at Lobb County Court House as he made his order. “As of this moment, he must be considered a fugitive from justice and all peace officers must detain him on sight!” The amazing move came at the behest of Lobb County Sheriff Dick Splash, who has been investigating the affairs of the self-styled ‘Son of God’. “I’ve had my suspicions about this guy for some time now – we’ve had reports from all over his supposed ‘miracles’ and his promises of ‘paradise’ to the poor and vulnerable,” the lawman explained to the press as he stood on the Court House steps, brandishing the newly issued warrant. “But I got really worried when I heard he’d been urging parents to ‘suffer the little children unto me’! Damn it, that set the alarm bells ringing – what kind of a grown man would be wanting to consort with other people’s kiddies? I thought then that we could have another Michael Jackson on our hands!”

Indeed, on the face of it the similarities between Jesus and Jackson appear uncanny: both are internationally acclaimed performers; both affect eccentric forms of dress; both of them have domineering fathers who have pushed them to success; each of them has a huge entourage of hangers-on willing to do their every bidding and both own vast amounts of property. According to Splash, the similarities don’t end there. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this Jesus Christ has had extensive plastic surgery, just like Jacko,” he says, between chews on his plug of tobacco. “As I understand it, his folks are good Jewish people from the Holy Land – now I’ve seen pictures of the man and there’s no way he’s Jewish or Middle Eastern! Just look at that aquiline nose, and that pale skin, damn it!” However, Jesus is proving to be an elusive quarry, seemingly always one step ahead of the law. “Every time we hear that he’s in one of his churches, we find that by the time we raid it, he’s gone,” concedes Splash, pausing only to fill a nearby spittoon with a mouthful of foul brown spit. “None of his cronies will talk either – no matter how hard a beating we give them round the back of the jail, they just jabber on about him being in his Father’s house. Unfortunately, all our enquiries to date have drawn a blank on the exact address of his daddy’s place.”

It was during a raid on one of Jesus’ regular local hideouts – St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lobb City – that the intrepid lawman uncovered hard evidence of the preacher’s reckless endangerment of children. “We caught them red-handed giving alcohol – on a Sunday as well, mind you – to a congregation which included children under the age of eighteen! Oh sure, they claimed it symbolic and for ceremonial purposes and that the stuff given to the kiddies was watered down, but in my book it’s still encouraging underage drinking,” explains Splash, who is in no doubt that the purpose of the exercise was to intoxicate the children before involving them in bizarre, possibly sexual, rites. “The backroom was full of weird children’s outfits – we even found some young boys wearing what appeared to be dresses – and the air was thick with the stench of what they claimed was ‘incense’. There were also a suspiciously large number of candles around the place!”

Splash is also concerned that Jesus and his followers could be encouraging even worse anti-social behaviour amongst the young and impressionable. “It seems that when they give them a wafer to eat, they tell them that it becomes the flesh of their Lord as it enters their mouths, whilst the wine becomes his blood! Well, with that kind of indoctrination going on, I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see outbreaks of cannibalism among the local youth,” he muses. “As for that business of nailing himself to a cross and exposing his virtually naked body to passers-by – don’t we have enough problems with TV programmes like Jackass encouraging kids to carry out dumb and dangerous stunts without this joker encouraging indecent exposure and self-harm?” The sheriff has also been highly critical of the policy of ‘forgiveness’ advocated by Jesus and his followers. “Apparently, just about any moral transgression is permissible just so long as you confess it and are forgiven,” he sputters in incredulity. “The worst punishment you get is just lighting candles and saying prayers! I’ll tell you, in my jailhouse confession to a capital offence is a one way trip to the electric chair! Is it any wonder the kids are running wild these days with this kind of lax morality being preached at ’em?”

Many of Sheriff Splash’s views are echoed by His Honour Judge Bertiss, although he is willing to give Jesus himself the benefit of the doubt, suspecting that he is the victim of bad influences . “It’s these freaky followers of Jesus who worry me most – grown men wearing dog-collars and dressing all in black blathering on about peace and love. I thought we’d finally run all those hippie, punk and Goth undesirables out of town back in ’82 when we had to bring in the National Guard to break up the High School Prom, after it got out of hand and they started playing the Rolling Stones,” declares the silver haired sixty-eight year old Walter Pidgeon look-a-like. “Apparently these dubious characters get paid for their ‘services’, so they have a vested interest in encouraging this boy in his dangerous delusions. Mind you, at the end of the day, I blame his father.”

Bertiss is in no doubt that it is parental pressure which has pushed Jesus into his bizarre patterns of behaviour. “When you tell a kid he’s the messiah and the Saviour of mankind, that’s putting a hell of a lot of pressure on him from an early age. He was bound to crack,” opines the Judge, stroking his clipped grey moustache. “In fact, I’m inclined to believe the father himself is the one guilty of child abuse – apparently it was him who told the boy that he could only fulfil his destiny by hanging on that cross! No wonder the boy turned out to be an abuser as well!” Dick Splash, who is standing for re-election later this year, is confident of apprehending his high-profile quarry, announcing a series of police raids on places of Christian worship throughout the county. “Make no mistake, even if I have to arrest every priest and bishop and seize every cent of their assets as the proceeds of crime, I’ll bring this bastard to justice,” he told a press conference at his campaign headquarters. “Let’s not forget how I brought that peacenik seditionist Buddha to justice back in ’03!” Coincidentally, 2003 was also an election year.