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A passionate response to Tyler Perry's 'The Passion Live'

Tyler Perry has lived and worked in Atlanta since the 1990s, but yesterday he returned to his native New Orleans for the live telecast of "The Passion Live."

Announced back in December, the two-hour event Sunday night on Fox sought to unite the sacred and the secular in a modern retelling of the Passion with Jencarlos Canela as Jesus, Tricia Yearwood as Mary, Chris Daughtry as Judas and Seal as Pontius Pilate.

Photo gallery: Tyler Perry hosts 'The Passion'

The singers (actors?) performed contemporary songs that fit with the story and found themselves placed in 21st century scenarios. The show also cut to a live procession of hundreds of people walking through the streets of New Orleans with an illuminated cross.

Before the broadcast even got started, it elicited a passionate response from viewers on social media. One of the biggest pre-show debates on Facebook was about casting.

Some disgruntled (potential) viewers were not happy that Jesus was being portrayed by a white man and were upset that Perry, a black man, would offer up a representation of a "white Jesus."

That prompted others to point out that Canela is Cuban which actually makes him a brown Jesus. And that led many others to note that if the production were really accurate, Jesus should have been portrayed by a Middle Eastern Jewish singer/actor.

The race debate also included mention that Seal, a dark-skinned singer of African descent, was portraying Pontius Pilate, the man who crucified Jesus.

When the show finally got underway, reaction was mixed between those who were elated to see a production of the Passion on national television and those who were dismayed with the quality of this particular production.

In case you missed it, today the production is available to stream on demand to viewers in all markets at and through the FOX NOW app.

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.