Gervais Jesus photoshoot causes controversy

A photograph of Ricky Gervais wearing a crown of thorns and with a mic stand across his shoulders like a cross was rejected by Rolling Stone Magazine for use on its cover.

“This was done for Rolling Stone Magazine but I think they decided it was a little strong for their demographic,” the actor/director said on his Huffington Post blog.

Gervais admits that when he described the Christ-like image to Rolling Stone they asked for an alternative.

“They definitely would have gone with the alternative, but since I didn't give them one they went with Rihanna. Ha Ha. Fair enough. I stand by my decision,” the comedian added.

However, Gervais has asked Huffington Post readers to choose between the Jesus image and a picture of him made up as a clown with a gun in his mouth to be used as the poster for his next stand-up tour.

John Nolte, editor in chief of the Big Hollywood website questioned Gervais' proposed caption for the religious image: “Stand up for what you believe”.

"Doesn’t he mean for 'what you don’t believe?' Actually, he doesn’t. That’s why I call Gervais an 'evangelical atheist'. He’s one of those obnoxious non-believers always pushing his non-belief on you. He’s like a Moonie without the charm, flowers or airport."

Gervais has also faced criticism about new American TV comedy Afterlife , in which a man who doesn't believe in heaven meets God when he dies – the almighty being played by Gervais as a "wise-cracking arrogant, son-of-a-bitch" (his words).

"I can't win. The Invention Of Lying proposed an alternative world where there was no God. That was an atheist comedy too. Seems the existence or non-existence of God in my work has no bearing on whether it's an atheist comedy or not. It just is. Because I wrote it, right?" he told his official website.