Madonna in concert in California on May 21
09/22/2006 at 08:00 AM EDT
As her record-breaking "Confessions" tour wrapped in Tokyo on Thursday, Madonna attempted to clear up "misinterpretations" of her stage show's mock crucifixion scene, saying it was meant to send a message of unity that Jesus would appreciate.
"I wanted to explain it myself once and for all," the singer said in a statement about her decision to perform "Live to Tell" while suspended on a giant cross, Reuters reports. "It is no different than a person wearing a cross or 'taking up the cross,' as it says in the Bible.
"My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole."
She added, "I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing."
The statement comes as NBC is considering whether to air a Madonna concert special
in November. The network says it is waiting for delivery of the footage before making a final decision.
Her concerts this year have made Madonna, 48, the top-grossing female tour artist of all time. But the crucifixion scene, which was a centerpiece of her shows, was poorly received by many Christian groups. The Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church both condemned the scene as insulting.