Christian Video To Be Distributed In California Neighborhoods

December 6, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On December 6, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "whether they want it or not, most residents of San Juan Capistrano will receive an early Christmas gift in the mail next week--an 83-minute movie on the life of Jesus. San Juan Capistrano residents will be among the 1.1-million households in 10 cities across the U.S. who will get the 'Jesus' video this holiday season from local churches and Christian leaders. The campaign is run by the San Bernardino-based Jesus Video Project, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. In eight years, the project's leaders say 11 million videos have been delivered to residents in 725 cities. More than 200,000 South Bay households received the movie from local churches last year. A little more than a year ago, the tapes were sent to every household in Aliso Viejo...Many angry residents in heavily Jewish Palm Beach County in Florida sent the videos back early this year when Campus Crusade for Christ mailed the film to households there during the week of Passover and Easter. One postal worker said she hadn't seen that many complaints in 22 years on the job. In Southern California, the reaction has been milder...Leaders from other faiths had a variety of opinions on the campaign. 'If I got one, I would not find it a welcome gift,' said Rabbi Mark Miller of Temple Bat Yahm, a Reform synagogue in Newport Beach. 'But I would respect the motivation of the sender. I'm a big one on the whole idea that we all have the right to press our case. I don't see anything offensive about it.' David Eliezrie, an Orthodox rabbi in Westminster, had a stronger reaction. 'While I respect the right of freedom of religion, I resent the effort of certain Christian groups to evangelize the Jewish community,' said Eliezrie of Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen-Chabad Center. For one Muslim leader, the concern wasn't about Christianity but the marketing of religion as a whole. 'I hate to turn religion into another junk mailer in a way,' said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 'As a person who believes in God, I don't approve of such tactics because it might offend people who don't appreciate God's message.' Kevin Mascaro, the project's executive director, said surveys his organization commissioned show 3% to 23% of households that get the video become Christians, and for every 100 videos given out, 50 to 200 people watch it. The video, a narrative of Jesus' life filmed in Israel, has been translated into more than 600 languages."