Online petition alleges ‘Deadpool’ poster is ‘religious discrimination’ against Latter-day Saints

(Photo courtesy Fox) "Once Upon a Deadpool" is now playing in theaters.

A petition demanding the removal of a “Once Upon a Deadpool” movie poster — calling it “a form [of] religious discrimination” against Latter-day Saints — has gathered nearly 40,000 online signatures as of Thursday afternoon.

The Change.org petition calls out the poster, which resembles what it calls the “sacred picture of ‘The Second Coming’” by Harry Anderson that was commissioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(Photo courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Harry Anderson painted "The Second Coming."

“Deadpool is positioned exactly as Jesus Christ was and is wearing a white robe," the petition reads. "It is unknown if the picture was used to intentionally mock the Church of Jesus Christ, but it is clear it was copied from the original picture. This is a form [of] religious discrimination. We ask that the picture be not used or posted in any manner. That they find another poster to represent their movie.”

The original painting features Christ returning to Earth, with angels blowing trumpets flanking him. The “Deadpool” poster centers on the masked character (played by Ryan Reynolds), beneath the words “Yule Believe in Miracles.” He’s flanked by various characters from the movie, some playing (or holding) musical instruments. And a dog.

(Photo courtesy Fox) "Once Upon a Deadpool" is now playing in theaters.

Comments left on the online petition include:

  • “This is so sacreligious (sic) to me. I can’t even believe they would do something so inappropriate. If you need to create such a shocking poster just to advertise your movie, then maybe you should reconsider your movie.”

  • “This is clearly hate speach (sic), I fear further retribution. Please remove and fine them.”

  • “This is sick.”

  • “It’s blasphemy.”

  • “I wholeheartedly agree with the [F]irst [A]mendment and free speech but this breeches over the line of religious discrimination. I find it very disrespectful.”

  • “This isn’t just about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is about respecting Christianity. You don’t have to like or agree with the Church, but please do not mock my Savior, the Savior of the world.”

  • “I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If people doesn’t believe in our faith, they must learn how to respect.”

Not all the comments were supportive of the petition. One quoted Latter-day Saint apostle David A. Bednar: “To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”

Another commenter wrote, “This poster is not religious discrimination, as the author of this petition claims. The poster is satirical, not discriminatory. Anyone who knows the Deadpool character, knows that he’s completely non-discriminatory, as he ridicules, mocks, satirizes just about everyone and everything (including himself). Go see the movie. Though not quite as good as the first, it’s very funny. Laugh, loudly, get over it.”

This is the second Deadpool-related controversy in Utah. In 2016, regulators with the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control threatened to fine the theater Brewvies up to $25,000 and to temporarily rescind its license under a law that bans serving alcohol during films with simulated sex or full-frontal nudity.

Brewvies sued the state, arguing that the law hampered its free speech rights, and prevailed. The state was later ordered to pay the theater’s legal bills, which amounted to nearly $500,000.