Jews Push Back with Campaign Against 'Passion;'

( [email protected] ) Feb 02, 2004 12:37 PM EST

Consistent with the tidal wave of publicity surrounding The Passion of the Christ, there has been massive evangelist effort especially among churches who support the film. Prominent Christian leaders have also endorsed the film through their reflection of the film. Rev.Billy Graham said he "was moved to tears" and he didn't believe there to be a more "graphic and moving presentation of Jesus' death and resurrection." But there are two sides to every coin as Jewish Organizations around the globe launch a counter-campaign to the film, believing it to imply the Jews responsibility for Jesus' death.

"Artists have every right to create any kind of movie they want, but an audience has the absolute right to pass judgment on that," said Rabbi James Rudin, a longtime interfaith adviser for the American Jewish Committee.

In addition to simply advising Christian leaders against using the film as an educational tool, Rudin has also been involved with the committee to produce a 40-page resource guide with a "how-to" approach to explain Jewish concerns about the film. The guide will be distributed to American Jewish chapters nationwide.

The Second Vatican Council has already declared that Jews were not collectively responsible for Christ's death.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is asking its pastors to "teach boldly" that mainline Protestanism does not intend to "demean, malign or harm the Jewish people."

It is too soon to tell if the film will damage interfaith relations, according to Philip Cunningham, executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning.

There are "conflicted moments where both sides reassess where they are vis-a-vis the other," Cunningham said. "We're in the midst of one such moment because of the Gibson film."