The Christmas special “The First Temptation of Christ” came from Rio-based comedy group Porta dos Fundos, which saw its headquarters targeted in a molotov cocktail attack on Christmas Eve. However, the ruling by Rio de Janeiro judge Benedicto Abicair was in response to a petition by a Brazilian Catholic organization that argued the "honor of millions of Catholics" was hurt by the Netflix special.
Abicair said the program’s withdrawal "is beneficial not only to the Christian community, but to Brazilian society which is mostly Christian."
"We strongly support artistic expression and we'll be fighting to defend this important principle, which goes to the heart of great storytelling," a Netflix spokesperson told Fox News in a statement.
The judge’s decision contradicted an earlier one rejecting censorship of the program. The ruling is valid until another court orders otherwise.
The ruling comes at a time when some civil groups say far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is waging a "cultural war," cutting funding for arts projects that challenge “Christian values" and inveighing against flamboyant carnival celebrations.
Early on the day before Christmas, a group of hooded men attacked the headquarters of Porta dos Fundos with Molotov cocktails. No one was hurt. A video circulating days later on social media showed three men claiming responsibility for the attack.
“The First Temptation of Christ” depicts Jesus returning home on his 30th birthday and insinuates he is gay. Religious groups bristled at the depiction, with millions signing an online petition for its removal. Creators of the film have defended it as legitimate freedom of expression.
The Portuguese-language film actually marks Porta dos Fundos's second religious satire following “The Last Hangover,” which depicts Jesus’ disciples looking for him on the morning after the Last Supper. They recently earned an International Emmy Award for best comedy web television special for "The Last Hangover."
“Porta dos Fundos values artistic freedom and humor through satire on the most diverse cultural themes of our society and believes that freedom of expression is an essential construction for a democratic country,” the group said in a statement about the backlash prior to the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.