'Passion' Screened at Global Pastor Conference, Florida

( [email protected] ) Jan 23, 2004 12:21 PM EST

The Passion was recently screened at the Global Pastors Network: Beyond All Limits 2 conference on Wed. in Orlando, FL. Regarding concerns that the film would stir anti-Semitism, Mel Gibson said, “I anticipate the worst is yet to come. I hope I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong,” addressing 4,500 evangelical Christian pastors at the showing.

Invited attendees were to asked to sign a non-disclosure statement in which they agreed to not speak of the film in public unless they spoke in support of it.

Critics fear anti-Semitic messages are being portrayed in the film since it shows the Jews being responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.

"The Jews killed Jesus, and the Jewish people were out to kill Jesus. As a religious leader, I am concerned that this should be a film that will hopefully not incite hatred," said Aaron Rubinger, rabbi of the Congregation Ohev Shalom.

Others disagree and say the film is not aimed directly at the Jews.

Bishop Dale Bronner, who viewed the film, said, "I certainly did not because it was not anything against the Jews. What took Jesus to the cross, and ultimately killed him, was not the Jewish people, but the sins of humanity,”

Gibson spent millions of his own money to film the movie, which will be the widest-released movie with subtitles ever.

"He says he knows that anything he does ... there will be controversy about it, and he'll just have to handle it," said Lois Evans of the Global Pastors Network.

The Passion of the Christ releases in theaters on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday according to the Catholic calendar.