From the Judean Times, 29 August 0031
THE DISAPPEARANCE of a controversial preacher styled “John the Baptist”, the leader of a fringe religious group, has become the focus of a scandal that could threaten the government of King Herod.
The “Baptist” has previously been censured by the Health and Safety Inspectorate for failing to undertake a risk assessment before immersing people in the cold water of the Jordan river as part of an exotic religious ritual. The Judean Social Services' Jordan Bank Area Committee have begun an investigation into the emotional abuse of his congregation on the grounds of his insistence on sin and guilt and his use of an overly didactic approach to adult learning in which he instructs people to “Behold” another religious figure as the “Lamb of God” rather than explore different possible lambs of God in small groups according to the personalised learning styles of his hearers. The Judean Health Education Council has issued a statement warning that his “locust and honey” diet is lacking in essential vitamins. They have urged people to focus instead on the avoidance of saturated fats and salt and the consumption of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
In the past few days, however, his dogmatic assertions have caused more serious questions to be asked at senior government level. “The Baptist” is reported to have told King Herod that his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, was immoral. An aide to King Herod, Rupert Brownose, a leading member of the Judean Secularist Society commented that his remarks lacked Christian charity. “He is supposed to be a follower of Christ who, I understand, told us to love one another. It hardly seems loving to criticise a public figure for his choice of partner. John the Baptist is exhibiting arrogance and religious intolerance” the spokesman continued, “by presuming to pronounce on the individual conscience of the King.”
Unconfirmed reports suggest that “The Baptist” has recently expressed strong views on a recent event featuring the performance artist Salome, the daughter of the King’s partner by a previous relationship. The itinerant prophet referred to the cultural event as immodest and scandalous. Some of those attending the performance expressed outrage at his comments. Sir Herbert Syncretist-Rolltrouser said, “This so-called prophet's gratuitous insult to a sensitive piece of performance art is the mark of a philistine who has nothing better to do than attempt to impose his personal morality on others.” (Following complaints from Philistine community leaders, Rolltrouser later apologised, saying that his remarks had not been intended to offend any particular ethnic group.)
Since the Salome performance, the “Baptist” has not been seen. Some supporters have claimed that a headless corpse found in the basement of Herod’s Palace is that of their religious leader. They say that the King, besotted with Salome, offered her anything she chose; and that his partner had suggested that she ask for his head on a platter. Government sources have issued a strong denial, insisting that the Queen’s remark was made in jest and that no further action had been taken against the “Baptist.”