03 January 2006

It’s like Miracle on 34th Street, the Scopes trial, and The Greatest Story Ever Told all wrapped up in one; a story-line made in TV mini-series heaven. Christianity itself — or at least one of its humble servants, Italian priest Father Enrico Righi — is set to go on trial in Rome, answering for charges of “abusing popular credulity,” “impersonation,” and “substitution of persons.” The lawsuit, brought by atheist author Signor Cascioli (whom Righi once denounced for denying the historical existence of Jesus), was reluctantly approved by a local Italian judge, who has ordered the priest to appear at a hearing next month. Cascioli, who contends that early Christian writers mistook a Jewish anti-Roman activist, John of Gamala, for Jesus Christ, has offered to withdraw the lawsuit if the priest can offer proof of Jesus’ existence by the end of the month.