Vatican City – Members of Christian body image advocacy organization Christians for a Realistic Appearing Messiah (“CRAM”) have been picketing outside the Vatican since Tuesday in an effort to draw attention to their claim that the church’s depictions of key Holy Trinity member Jesus Christ as thin and physically fit have promoted unrealistic standards of beauty that have been detrimental to the planet’s one and a half billion Christians.

“Two millennia of body shaming has taken its toll on Christendom,” explained CRAM president Dick Borne. “Is it any mystery why Christians are twenty times more likely than Buddhists to develop eating disorders? Their plump smiling Buddha simply doesn’t place the same pressures on them. We demand a more realistic, body-positive Christ who does not shame or judge his followers by subjecting them to his immaculate six pack. It’s unfair and harmful for the church to depict Jesus with a such a perfect physique when so many of his followers can never live up to that standard.”

At a brief press conference Friday, Vatican official Father Carlo Ponto dismissed CRAM’s grievances as having no merit: “Christian theology is predicated on the idea that Christ was perfect. So it makes sense that he should have a perfectly sculpted, rockin’ bod. I mean, c’mon folks, can you really imagine Christ without that jawline cut from pure granite, dripping with blood and sweat as he agonizingly flexes those rippling, rock hard muscles under that scorching Judean sun? And that tight little body of his tied down to the cross so hard he can barely move as he receives lash after lash from a rabid group of strapping centurions? This rich imagery has inspired countless men to join the clergy over through the centuries, including myself.” Father Ponto then refused to take media questions, quickly escaping into a rectory.

Harvard-trained theologian and medical doctor Harvey Pitek believes that CRAM has made the mistake of trying to impose modern beauty standards on a figure from the first century Middle East: “With their light Mediterranean diets of fruits and nuts and their constant walking, people in this time and place were almost certainly svelte and did not have the weight problems and related psychological complexes commonly experienced by people today. However, given his origin and lineage, Christ would likely have been about four-and-a-half feet tall with dark skin and thick matted hair covering most of his body. So depicting Jesus as a blonde, fair-skinned, six-foot Caucasian is probably a stretch.”

Dr. Pitek went on to state: “Of course, on the other hand, we have no way of knowing for sure what Jesus really looked like. Scientifically speaking, we can’t rule out the possibility that he was a totally shredded Adonis who stood apart from his contemporaries in terms of classically handsome European features and lean, toned musculature.”

CRAM’s Dick Borne says he expected some pushback: “As Christ himself taught us, we Christians must expect to be persecuted. Many focus on persecution from outside the church. But we at CRAM believe the most insidious form of persecution facing Christians today comes from inside the church; ironically from Christ himself. First Corinthians taught us that we Christians are the ‘Body of Christ.’ Well we think it’s about damn time Christ actually started reflecting that proposition.”

Despite the vehement disagreement on this issue, most seem to agree that CRAM is just the tip of the body image iceberg for a church whose recent history has been marred by controversy. The upstart group has raised a question Christians the world over are now being forced to ask themselves: Jesus Christ, hot or not?